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Virtual Clipper sailing 2015-2016 index

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Fastnet race 2015

Clipper 70 VMG

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Home > Miscellaneous > Sailing > Clipper 15-16 Leg 3

Clipper 15-16 sailing: Leg 3

Leg 3 from Cape Town to Australia.

Virtual round the world sailing race game:

Leg 3 started on 31/10/2015 at 13:30GMT, from Cape Town (Afrique du Sud) to Albany (Australia), 5000 miles, 14 days estimated.

To join in the Clipper sailing race game go to Virtual Regatta (external link) and invent your boat. Its free of charge for a boat with basic sails and manual steering. You can pay euros for options: faster pro sails, a route waypoints programming capability and automatic locking of the wind angle. Boats with options are called AO (avec options). Boats without options are called SO (sans options). In the team competition the scores for SO and AO boats are adjusted to compensate for the difference.  Obviously, in the main individual boats race, an AO boat does better and has more chance of winning a prize. The number of competitors is over 30,000.

Watch a video below showing Clipper 70's:

The video above gives some idea of what this leg was like two years ago during a similar previous 13-14 Clipper race.

Clipper 1516 start of leg 3 Cape Town to Australia

The start of the race was a little tricky, with the wind directly on shore which meant tacking at +/- 42 deg to get of of Cape Town Bay. I went to the south west for 14 minutes, then turned south east to miss the headland. After the first 14 minutes I was down to something like 6500th place, but on passing the headland a few hours later had advanced, together with Aberlady to 415/416 position.  I doubt that such will ever be seen again in this race as the approx 800 of the pro sails boats (Avec Options) will now be steadily overtaking.

Clipper 1516 overview of the course
This chart show an overview of the course.

The fleet scatters after the start

6pm Sunday: One day and 6 hours after the start.  Last night and throughout today we have been steadily boring down southwards. The effect on position is bad, down from 415th to 4338th position. Aberlady is 4295. But not to worry. The idea is get far enough south to benefit from strong following winds, which we hope will happen in a few days time. You can never tell however.

8pm Sunday: With wind from the south the lead boats in our little group at the bottom, are established on a 42 deg wind angle towards the south east. Aberlady has managed to fix a fault on his radio. We are about 83 miles behind the leading AO boats. I've put an orange line across them, the first 5 boats, which are 78 - 88 miles ahead. Hopefully we will have the spinnaker up tomorrow morning.

Here are the team positions:

Individual yacht race positions so far

I've yet to plot them all on a chart. Maybe tomorrow. All I've managed to work out so far is that several of us have taken the far south route option which will only work if there are some good winds 7,8,9 October around 54-55 deg south latitude.  I am going to have to redo my GRIB files to look even further south and also need to check if there are any iceberg limits in the rules for this race.

Monday morning, 2nd Nov 2015. Looking at this people must wonder if we, in the south group, have gone off sightseeing, looking for icebergs, and forgotten about the race. At the far top right the lead boats are 120 miles ahead. I'm in that south group and trying to keep the wind angle just under 90 deg so as to keep the jib up and not have to change to spinnaker. Trouble is that the wind is gradually changing direction so I have to alter course every 30 minutes or so.

7pm Monday. 2/11/2015.  Maximum speed here is about 14 kts with wind angle 123 deg and wind speed 19kts. Not quite in the best direction however, as shown, so at 8pm turned south a bit in the same general direction the other boats are going - follow-my-leader style.

Tues am: I'm intending to pass a little north of the Prince Edward Islands. I've found I can compress the chart sideways to 79% and also distort the lower part to better represent the real distances involved.  The thin orange line is a suggested route and approximately follows a great circle, so ideally should be a straight line on the chart. I wrote a program once that produced views of the earth from any point in space and that would help if I could get the old computer to work! For example here are some views of the earth from above the equator above europe.

Someone used my program to produce views from many places and heights and then joined them all together in an animated gif video to produce views from a satellite in a highly elliptical and inclined orbit. Watching it make you understand that astronauts can get motion sickness, as well as sailors.

7pm. Tuesday 3 Nov. Earlier today upped the speed record so far this leg to 14.5 kts.

9am Wed Nov 4th. Now 200 miles behind the pro (AO) leaders.

I've spent the day trying to get ahead of Marius Jacob EZ, which was 9m ahead at 7am and it still 9m ahead 12hr later. Fed up with just following I' trying a new strategy. Albany in Australia is at 35 7S, 118 1E. satsig.net is now at 45 6S and 33 19E, so the great circle bearing is 114 deg. With the wind from 264 at 16.7kt I have worked out the best VMG is with wind angle =135, so that it is for the time being. During the night the wind angle needs reducing to 130 by 7am, for best VMG at 7am. We will see what difference is makes following this new idea.


13:00 Thursday 5th Nov. Bonfire Night !  Using the VMG method seemed to produce the same course as following everyone else. It did not improve my position relative to other close boats, in fact it got worse. Overall however I am up from 4574 to 2653 over last 24 hours, but that is probably due to choosing the southern route rather than northern route. Just about to pass the Prince Edward Islands.

Clipper team: Britpack 7 boats plus a few others: race positions today

7pm Thursday 5 Nov.  I've just turned to 82 deg with a VMG=9.84.  Everyone else it seems has gone south east  with a VMG=7.58.  Maybe there is some better wind ahead in that direction.  On the assumption that most have got it right I will change to SE, later this evening, once the wind had changed 4deg anti clockwise, from 299 to 295.

I went East for about an hour and turned SE, prompted by concern from another competitor, who asked if I was OK ?. Later, about midnight everyone seems to be turning left to East, so I followed. It was a good move and we all made good progress in a sensible direction. The diversion SE causes a loss of places but this was kore then made up by the long broad reach from midnight till 7am. This morning at 7am wind change I turned a little left to peak the VMG with a 131 wind angle.

Location 47S45 41E6   GC=107.38  Wind 251@20.5  VMG WA=131  

Now I'm in 2411st position out of 30439 competitors.

Complex sailing route predictions using qtvlm analysis

Snaggletooth has just reached 16.7kts, possibly a speed record this race so far. Above are possible routings towards Australia from our current locations, using 10 day grib forecast.

Satellite view showing all 30439 boats. At the bottom there is a red yacht marker for my satsig.net.  The leading pro boats, with options, are those now approaching the Crozet Islands, having followed a northern route from Cape Town. They have done unexpectedly well.  The highly visible arc of boats, off Africa, is due to many boats setting off, setting some, possibly random, course and then shortly afterwards being abandoned to a fixed trajectory.

Now about quarter of the way to Albany in Australia.


Records being broken: Snaggletooth up to 17.4kt.  Aberlady and Mullionman now below 1000th place.

Sat am: Good progress during last night, I'm now at 776th place and only dropping back about 1 place per 10 minutes.. Amazing!

Today keeping a little to the north for stronger winds, then about 5pm will aim SE a bit so as to pick up stronger winds to the south tonight - it depends a bit on how the forecast changes between now and 5pm. I am talking about a 5 to 10 deg shift to the right, while keeping true wind angle (TWA) between 120 and 135, preferably peaked at 125.  General idea is to keep gradually going south from, -45 to -53 deg latitude  as there are good winds forecast over next few days. But I must remember that chasing winds over 30kt makes no difference to boat speed at WA=120-125 and only a small improvement at WA=140.

Sat night: I turned about 10 deg right at 6pm, with some loss for the first hour with WA=117, but at 7pm the wind chnages and the WA=142, which was fine for the evening, then at 11pm likes upwith 135 WAs like the others.


8 Nov, Sunday morning: Strong winds ~30kt overnight, fortunately in a steady direction so minimal course adjustments, 1 deg or so, from time to time. I'm using the VMG method. Position=52S25 58E44.5 GC=91.6 Wind=247.1@29.3 WA=135.

Aberlady: Here we are with approx 10 days to get to Australia. Past experience and Zezo tells tells us that the stronger winds are further South, before we head up for Albany. So the task as I see it is to work the shifts down to around 54deg south whilst keeping as far East as possible. The vmg for running with these boats is around 144deg and the max speed is approx 124deg. So my course is a compromise between the these 2 parameters is 134 and if I had taken the lazy option I could set the Auto wind Angle to 134 and see what happens - With about 50 hours to go to reach the turning point I am trying to go at max speed in strong but variable SE wind without going further south than I have to.

Life is a compromise and I am grateful to Eric who is going to look after Aberlady this weekend. My wife and I travel up to London to take part in the Remembrance Day Parade - Retirement definitely has its advantages.

Remembrance day today.

Remembrance day today.

Later Sunday morning and looking at the forecast 3-4 days ahead. There are good following winds for the next 3 days or so, then there is a problem, getting north over the narrow bad of light adverse winds. Its going to be a matter of timing and accuracy of the forecast to turn north east at the right moment -see the red arrow.

Team individual positions

qtvlm route calculations

Sunday 6pm: Which way to go now is a difficult question to answer. This evening it it going to be interesting to see what happens. One route is east (approx 105-115 deg for 4 days, then turn NE towards Albany. The alternative is to turn NE now for 3 days and then turn gradually east towards Albany. Both routes are forecast to take the same time, about 9 days, ending 17th Nov at about 5pm, an hour or so apart. Beowulf (not shown in above chart), already in northerly position and apparently some way back, is forecast to get there just a few hours later at 11:30pm on the 17th. I've just been watching a video of 12hr forecasts and it looks like a series of random weather situations which hardly much connection from 12hr to the next.  You see a more realistic continuity in the pattern with 3hr intervals, but that is not how the game works.

Monday morning 9 November: I've marked up those that appear to be going the north route in red and those choosing the east route in yellow. Not sure about the middle group in red. I have no idea which way is best. It makes a difference depending on the way the weather patterns fit the exact timing of the weather forecasts. So much depends on what weather is in each 12hr picture and that varies randomly when the weather patterns move so fast. It's like taking pictures of the waves at the beach every 30 seconds, there is no continuity from one image to the next.

12 noon. Mullionman and Aberlady and the two red boats with white stars have turned north, so it looks like they are going for the north route option.

18:00pm Monday: I'm in the south red ellipse, going east for the next 24 hours, then intending to turn north east.

The top right group in the north, with the two red boats with white stars - are the experts. The middle group are actually the leaders at the moment, i.e. nearer the destination, in positions 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Both of these groups have the expensive PRO, faster sails.

qtvlm route predictions

Estimated arrival times: North group 12:12 17 Nov, South group 09:16 17 Nov.

10 Nov 2015: Aiming to continue east a bit longer, till about midnight tonight. My position, 439th above, is improving all the time and I was 380th at 9:20.  This may be highly misleading, if I get stuck in some low wind speed area for 12 hours and lose some 150 miles or so relative to the others in the north group I might easily drop several thousand places.

Happy Birthday today to Nick on Aberlady !

11 Nov: Moving slowly in the right direction right now, with uncertain winds later this evening. the north group now making good progress with strong following winds. Although the north group are 150 miles or so behind they are making up ground at the rate of 85 miles every 12 hours.

SO team positions part way on leg 3

Team competition:  Although our team looks scattered we are not doing too badly. In this race, team Britpack 7 has 221 points at the moment and is about 12th position out of 27.  Our standing over the first three races is 17th.

Aberlady: The fleet has split into 2 groups with Eric Satsig.net up with the leading (SO) down at 50deg South and 60miles closer to Albany. Aberlady is up North in the balmy 42deg South following Mullionman and Kames Bay. Overnight Eric is running into lighter winds so maybe the Northern group will reduce that lead but with 6 days still to go, literally anything can happen - At this time my ranking is 910 and Satsig.net is 300 places ahead - Anybodies guess as to who buys the beers in Albany.

Thursday 12 Nov. 8:30 am Northern group is now 4 to 26 miles ahead.

..qtvlm race route predictions

The north and south routes end within 6 minutes of each other ! Positions reversed with Mullionman and Aberlady leading in the north group with myself and Snaggletooth trailing in the south group.

Image of Clipper race yacht ICHORCOAL
email recruiting for the Clipper round-the-world series

This email arrived today. If you want to join the real race in 2 years time go here: Clipper Round TheWorld

Evening of 12th Nov.  Good easterly sailing ahead for north group.

13 Nov, mid afternoon. The north group (Aberlady and Mullionman) have made fast speeds all last night and today, approx 16.5kt, while myself in the south group have made only 11kt due to having to sail closer into the wind. The best angle is broad reach, about 120 to 125 deg.  Today I have been doing about 80 deg. The closest to the wind you can sail is about 45 deg called close hauled. I could have gone very fast due east but an trying to get north east towards the objective.  Snaggletooth and Minzapint look to be scoring boats for the team, as we need 4 boats to finish. I wish them both well.  After the next 24 hours the weather changes dramatically from one 12hr forecast to the next so it is not at all clear what to do. About 920 miles to go. If the lead boats slow up it is likely that those behind will catch up a bit, but there would appear to be muck luck involved or skill far beyond what I can manage!

7pm: 13 Nov 2015. Still struggling to get north. Using jib at its maximum wind angle of 101 deg. Mullionman and Aberlady in north group now 14 and 19 miles ahead.

Saturday morning: Going north east. Alternatives are fairly close hauled, as shown on a bearing of 28 deg or a wider angle to the east. Note how the wind is now from the north and all day till 7pm in the game.

Weather forecast

Here are the forecasts (start= 0600 GMT)  for 1500 GMT, 1800 GMT and 2100 GMT. There is a depression, 1006 mB, moving east, but I'm uncertain how fast it will actually move. The blue/purple area shows the rain.

The lower left red dot shows satsig position at 7am this morning. The other two dots represent where I might be at 7pm tonight. Which of these is better?. If the 1500 GMT forecast is true at 1800 (less likely) then both end positions end up in light winds. If the 1800G forecast is true at 1800 GMT, westerly choice is better. If the 2100 GMT forecast is true at 1800 (less likely) then both end positions are good.  Conclusion: Go for the west end point.

8:48pm Tonight is going to be difficult. Changing course every 30 minutes keeping the WA=143 or so and then gybing at about midnight to go north initially and then gradually changing course towards north east. I made a mistake, I think, choosing the south route option a few days ago.

During the night made numerous small changes in course, plus a gybe. Having made progress northwards, I am now well positioned for a longish reach to the east.

Monday 16th Nov: 07:00 GMT.  Back to north direction for today.

Satellite view of Clipper 15-16 sailing race

Interesting satellite view showing all boats. My guess is the right group are mainly, if not all with pro sails, while the left group are those with standard sails.

Showing how to first pass the headland and turn to reach the offical finish line
showing the first five boats approaching the port of Albany, Australia.

Mullionman has warned that to correctly cross the finishing line circle you must first pass the headland to port. The land located "light house", "orange buoy" or "red cross" may light up green as you pass it.

For us the finish is now under 250-300 miles to go.


7am 17th Nov 2015.  Three of us should reach the finish today. I'm planning a curved course, approx 135 wind angle initially so as to arrive at the finish going north, otherwise it is fast now (WA=120-130) and rather slower later.

Full team approaching the finish

Good winds also for Beowulf 1, Snaggletooth, Flambouyant and Lady Phyllis May. Snaggletooth making 17.5 kt at this time. Well done.

Mullionman and Aberlady arriving in Australia

Mullionman and Aberlady arriving in Australia.

Aberlady: Gee-what a finish. My friend from South Africa with Slap Happy was 4nm ahead with 17 hours to go. The tip from Dave( Mullionman) to go around the headland was well timed and I had the advantage of following Neil (Kames Bay) who once again lead the UK contingent. At the 0700VRT wind change Slap Happy was 11places 1nm ahead and 2nm to windward, with the help of Zezo I slowly realised that if I kept a wind angle of 135deg it would bring me in a curve up- to the headland. Slap Happy tended to sail a more straight line and at a 125deg was going much faster to be 2nm ahead. However as we neared the headland SH speed was down to 9 knots and Abdy was on 13.5 with SH  ahead by 0.25nm.Now we have cleared the headland and on the 10 minute update I am just N of the headland and SH is a similar distance but NE of the headland.Now change course  to the NW and the finish, remembering to select the headsail as it now has an  80deg TWA. 20 mins later we cross the finish line Aberlady is 3 minutes and 6 places ahead of Slap Happy and 11 behind Mullionman. What an advantage being Retired is for racing with (SO) - Well sailed Neil/Kames Bay and Dave/ Mullionman.who sail so well while being  out and about earning a living.

There is big dispute/row/protest going on about the finish. The rules (in french) said that you must pass the mark on the headland to port and then turn in to cross the finish line. Some boats directly crossed the circle on the west or south side of the peninsula and the game apparently allowed them to make a valid finish, gaining many places in one example. In previous races failure to pass a mark has resulted in "Did not finish". This should apply in this case and boats should have had to turn back and finish properly. It sems they have implemended a time penalty instead.

Navigation into King George Sound

satsig.net turning in to cross the finish line.  Some tight navigation was needed around the headland, just avoiding running aground.

Finishing certificate

My result, position 802 out of 32486 competitors. I gained 21 places in the last 30 minutes.

View of King George Sound from the promenade. It is supposed to be summer time now so lets hope for some sun.

7pm 17th Nov 2015. Summary now: Mullionman, Aberlady and satsig.net have finished. Others are still racing as shown above.

The real Clipper race yacht positions, mid way on leg 3

Wed 18 Nov: This shows the progress of the real Clipper 1516 Round the World race boats. They still have between 633 and 1467 miles to go. Why are they so slow?. I think one reason is that they are not allowed to go below 44deg 30 min South due to real race safety rules with the objective of avoiding ice bergs.

In our team Minzapint, Beowulf 1 and Snaggletooth have now finished. Well done, making up the 5 scoring boats in the team.

Flambouant and Lady Phyllis May, with 398 and 426 miles to go, are both presently doing well, making 15-16kts in favourable 30kt winds.

Finally approaching Australia from the south

The final two boats are not forgotten.

Somehow I've advanced 1 place, from 802nd to 801st, while moored up in harbour, in last two days. I think this is because some earlier finisher was given a time penalty for crossing the wrong finishing line.

Our team individual positions in the results of leg 3, plus some other boats.

Our team results

 This table refers to leg 3 only. This has been our best result so far. We came 15th in the team results.

Team results

Looking at the overall results so far, where previous legs are taken into account, our team came 23rd in leg 1, 20th in leg 2 and 15th in leg 3. Adding the points for each race and overall so far, without any discards we are 17th overall.

Individual results

24th Nov 2015: An email from Clipper Ventures arrived today.

Clipper Race 15-16 crew recruitment email


Dear Eric

So the first Clipper yachts have crossed the finish line at the end of Leg 3 and are celebrating racing across one of the fiercest and most isolated stretches of water on the plant. But for the rest of the fleet it really is still all to play for.

Back in the UK training has now finished for 2015 and will resume in March. We're interviewing on a daily basis, searching for more "gems". Amazing and interesting adventurers to race on the Clipper 2017-18 Race. For me the real beauty of the race is the mix of people - people you really wouldnt meet in any other way. Touring rock stars, members of the clergy, NASA scientists, models. All backgrounds, all religions, all cultures. The only thing that matters is how good is your tea making and sail changing skills... If only the world was as simple.

Presentations about the Clipper Race will be taking place in the coming days and weeks across the North of England - Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. As well as both Western Australia and Sydney.

Details of times and venues can be found here - https://clipperroundtheworld.com/events-calendar

If you can't find an event near you, please do let me know. We do have events coming up in Asia, America and Europe too.

The Clipper Race is one of the most unique challenges in the world. Novice sailors pitting their wits on the same oceans that professional sailors race. Of course the ocean doesn't know which is which, so dont expect an easy ride.

If you think you have what it takes, we'd love to hear from you.

David Cusworth, Circumnavigator Clipper 2002-03

Date for the next three races (subject to change)

01/12/2015 ---- 4, Albany  - Sydney , 2270 miles, 7 days
26/12/2015 ---- 5, Sydney - Hobart , 710 miles, 3 days
02/01/2016 ---- 6, Hobart  - Airlie Beach , 1600 miles, 6 days

Page amended 23 Jan 2020, 8 June 2021   ECJ (c) 2016 Copyright Satellite Signals Limited, All rights reserved.