Clipper Round the World Race 7, The Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, got underway at 05:30 UTC Tuesday, 19 January. The 4,310 nautical mile race had a Le Mans start approximately 100 nautical miles from Airlie Beach in the Coral Sea.
Duty Skipper Peter Thornton aboard GREAT Britain conducted the start which was held offshore to avoid the risk of racing through the coral reefs. The Le Mans start requires all the boats to line up. If the Duty Skipper suspects that an unfair advantage is being obtained by any boat they will halt the start process and re-start the sequence.
Skipper Peter Thornton reported: “We were all in position to start the race with a Le Mans procedure in good time. At 1530 local we were all lined up (pretty much) and started Race 7! When the 10 minute course and sail hold had passed, nearly all the fleet popped their kites to make ground north-east towards Papua New Guinea.”
The race to Da Nang is expected to take 31 days, with the fleet arrival window set for 17-21 February.
The procedure uses the standard Clipper start countdown of 10 min, 4 min, 1 min, Start. Prior to the 10 minute signal all boats have their mainsails hoisted. Headsails hanked on, halyards and sheets attached, but NOT hoisted. All boats motor slowly (speed set by the Duty Skipper), approximately 2 to 3 boat lengths apart in a line abreast on a pre-arranged heading. This heading is usually towards the finish.
Once the fleet is in a line abreast, the lead skipper signals the 10 minute gun via VHF on a pre-arranged channel. Engines shall be used to ensure that the boats are lined up accordingly (either reverse or forward).
At the 4 minute signal, all crew shall be aft of the forward coffee grinder. At the one minute signal, engines are to be turned off. Mainsails are trimmed to ensure the fleet stays in line. If the fleet drift out of line, the Duty Skipper can stop the sequence and start the process again.
At the start gun, the crew can move forward and the headsails can be hoisted. All boats must hold the agreed course and separation for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.