Update: The sun WILL rise again

On the 22 November at 14.00 UTC, the entire crew for Punta del Este were finally put out of our misery by this official update from Clipper’s Race Committee following the collision with Sanya at the start of Leg 3:

Race Committee Ruling

Regarding the incident which occurred during Race 4 Start in Cape Town, the Clipper Race Committee has agreed upon the following :-

After investigating the Port / Starboard incident between CV25 Punta del Este and CV29 Visit Sanya, China, at the beginning of Race 4, the Clipper Race Committee has adjudged that CV29 Visit Sanya, China to be at fault after a clear breach of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) 10 ‘On Opposite Tacks’.

As a result of this ruling CV29 Visit Sanya, China has been disqualified from Race 4. The team will officially receive a zero points score and is prohibited from entering into any Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint for Race 4.

CV25 Punta del Este is exonerated from any breach of RRS 14 ‘Avoiding Contact’ and has been awarded redress as follows. The team will receive an average points score of 9 points and this has been based on its finishing points to date over the three races completed so far and includes any Scoring Gate bonus points, as well as points gained from its Joker. The team will be entitled to enter the Ocean Sprint for Race 4 as per normal.

The calculation for average points is detailed below :-

Race 1: 11 points
Race 2: 6 points (3 x 2 including Joker)
Race 3: 8 points

Sub-Total: 25 points

Scoring Gate: 1 point
Ocean Sprint: 6 points

Grand Total: 32 points

Calculated thus :-

25 points over 3 races = 8.33333 average.

Adding the single point gained from the scoring gate to the total and then calculating average points gives 25 + 1 over 3 races = 8.66666 average.

Over 3 races CV25 Punta del Este has gained an average of 0.3333 scoring gate points per race so will be awarded another 0.33333 points for the scoring gate on Race 4 (which it cannot enter).

This gives a total of 9 points awarded to CV25 Punta del Este for Race 4 and the option to go for the Ocean Sprint (which has not been averaged as it is still live for them).

CV25 Punta del Este and CV29 Visit Sanya, China will commence racing in Table Bay after all repairs have been completed. They will start together as a Le Mans Start and will match race against each other following the course, as laid out in existing Course Instructions for Race 4.

They will not be racing on elapsed time and will therefore not be racing against the rest of the fleet. They will be match racing against each other and will be competing for a unique Clipper Race match racing trophy which will be presented to the winning team.

As both teams will be racing, they will still be able to accrue penalty points for sail and equipment damage as per the Clipper Race Sailing Instructions.

Repairs and Race Start dates for Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China

Repairs are going well on CV25 Punta del Este and CV29 Visit Sanya, China and the Clipper Race Office estimates the work should be completed by 27 to 28 November. Current estimates would see a departure by both teams on 28 or 29 November. Before that date, but around repair work, crew of both remaining teams will be training on the Visit Sanya,China yacht as additional preparation for the Southern Ocean.

Based on the above departure dates and subject to weather conditions enroute, it is estimated that both yachts could arrive into Fremantle on or around 21/22 December.

This will obviously have an impact for crew joining on Leg 4 and we will be able to give a further update on this as soon as we have some more accurate information.

20 November 2019

Work is being done around the clock in Cape Town to carry out the necessary repairs to Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China.

A core team of Clipper Race Director, Mark Light, Operations and Logistics Manager, Matt Pettit and Maintenance Manager, Jay Haller, along with the Skippers and AQPs of both yachts, are remaining in Cape Town until the boats are ready to depart. Their focus is making sure the repairs to both yachts are completed to the highest standards and as soon as possible as well as supporting the crews and dealing with all of the immigration and clearance formalities.

In the spirit of the Clipper Race both teams will definitely be competing against the rest of the fleet in Race 4. Facilitating this in a fair way, for all teams, is being considered and worked out by the Race Committee.

The Race Committee will be deciding on any repercussions from the incident and how this may affect the results of Race 4.

Both crews are supporting each other and remain in close contact with the Clipper Race team in Cape Town.

Whilst it can’t be guaranteed at this early stage, Clipper Race organisers hope to have both teams on the start line for Race 5 from Fremantle to the Whitsundays.

And here’s a blog account from a crew member onboard Sanya to get another perspective…

Meanwhile, repairs are progressing for Punta del Este

Repairing Punta’s damaged hull on the port quarter.
Prior to the repair.
Limping back into Cape Town with a lot of damage sustained to the helming station.

Colliding in Cape Town

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

I realise this nautical adage is referring to sailing competency, but it could equally be applied metaphorically to team development, as my team have not had the best arrival and departure from Cape Town…Perhaps the spirit of Table Mountain had a beef with Punta del Este and wanted to show who’s boss, because we were penalised on our way into Cape Town and now we can’t leave Cape Town as Sanya has spectacularly T-boned our beautiful boat! Now she and the crew are being repaired back at port. All this happened a mere FIVE minutes into race start (!) to add insult to injury. Punta was starboard of Sanya, so technically Sanya was the give way vessel, although I gather a number of circumstances were reported that imply it is beyond simple anti-collision rules being broken…Skippers’ protests and a Race Committee investigation are ongoing, so no ‘official’ outcome yet.

Following a briefing back in port yesterday with both crews, Clipper report that repairs will take 8-10 days. All crew have either decided to fly home for a few days or go off sightseeing South Africa, but have to reconvene in port on 26th November. Sanya are also staying in port to race with Punta del Este when the time comes, as no one wanted a yacht going out into the great Southern Ocean on its own. Sanya also sustained some damage to her bowsprit in the collision so that needs to be repaired too; although it is a lot more of a routine repair. Nonetheless, it’s all still a very fluid situation and despite the intention of having all the fleet racing from Freemantle at the same time, precisely how this will be achieved is yet to be confirmed. I also do not know at this stage if Sanya will receive penalty points or if we will pick up some bonus points in sympathy. The official statement from Clipper on the collision typically does not give much away.

Many of us onshore crew and our team supporters are having withdrawal symptoms from not being able to avidly check-in with the race tracker on a daily basis and seeing the rest of the fleet draw ever further away from our stationary position is soul destroying, but nonetheless, the humour from team mates has been brilliant. David Lee’s message on the Crew, Family and Friends of Team Punta del Este Facebook page made me laugh out loud:

“Any chance you guys could challenge Sanya to a beach volleyball game or something? We are sort of lost without the race tracker, although Alan’s game face videos helped me get through another day of work. ;-)”

Alan, Alan Loy, is another team mate who is only racing in this leg – Leg 3 – managed to also make us all laugh with this:

“…You’ll be pleased to know that Punta del Este is a learning team, fully committed to continuous improvement.”

But despite the humour to keep up morale, it’s very sad to see our beautiful boat in pain; I wince just looking at the photos of the damage and impact of collision.

I was initially in shock when I heard the news yesterday morning and then I spent the rest of the day feeling great empathy and being gutted on their behalf; especially for my team mates who have joined in Cape Town to undertake a very challenging leg across the Southern Ocean and it’s their only leg in the race. One crew member may have to withdraw from the race as he does not have the flexibility to wait for the completion of repairs and then race on to Freemantle. His race could be over before it’s started and I feel for him. Another crew member also can’t continue because he sustained injuries to his shoulder as a result of the collision, so has had to withdraw. This is one of the scenarios I dread. All those months and years emotionally, financially and mentally committed to the race and then, BOOM! It’s over. Just like that.

Until very recently I strongly felt the hardest part in all this was getting myself to the start line, but recently, I am also beginning to see that this is then swiftly followed by the challenge of remaining in the race. Despite the fact that Leg 3 has only just got underway and race start was only 10 weeks ago (it feels like an eternity!) we have already seen one Skipper sacked, another resign and I know of one crew member who has resigned from the race despite being a RTW’er for his team, not to mention those crew from across the fleet who have sustained injury and had to withdraw in port for medical treatment.

Still, it is also true that “every cloud has a silver lining.” For me this is encapsulated by the spirit of Team Punta del Este and those crew currently biding their time in Cape Town who took the initiative to locate a charity for all the fresh food that had been stowed aboard less than 24 hours previously to feed 22 crew 5,000 calories a day, for 28 days at sea (i.e. there’s a LOT of food on board!). So it makes me proud to learn that due to the significant delay in Punta’s departure from Cape Town, the fresh food on board Punta del Este went to a local charity in Cape town, U-turn, who work with those living on the streets (http://homeless.org.za), because the crew donated all their fresh food to the charity yesterday. A big shout out to fellow crew Craig Palmer and Nick Binks for organising this; true Punta del Este spirit!  

Victualing in Cape Town

…So every cloud has a silver lining. We were able to be charitable despite our major setbacks and we could repay the hospitality shown to all the crews whilst in port, by feeding some of those people in Cape Town, for whom the idea and opportunity to race in a round-the-world yacht race is even more of a pipe dream than mine was.

I hope it won’t be long before we can!