Please select your home edition
Reverso Air 2021 LEADERBOARD

Anything but plain sailing through the Caribbean

by Clipper Round the World Race 21 Jun 2020 05:14 PDT
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - The second race of Leg 7 can see varied conditions © Clipper Race

The race from Panama through the Caribbean Sea is a far stretch from a holiday on the relaxed paced, tropical islands the Clipper Race teams will traverse. A definite gear shift is experienced by crew compared to the sometimes Champagne sailing conditions off the West Coast of the United States, Mexico and Central America the teams will have faced on the first stage of Leg 7.

Whilst it is comparatively shorter than earlier ocean crossing in the circumnavigation, it is a tactically tough race as the route passes through a complex arrangement of islands and reefs.

Crew can expect everything from searing temperatures, light and fickle winds to squalls and tropical storms with spectacular displays of lightning. Countless sail changes will be on the cards and it's a race where we often see frequent changes in the leaderboard as distance can be lost as quickly as it is gained.

Jennifer Burgis raced halfway round the world, from the Whitsundays to London, during the 2015-16 edition and during Leg 7 she experienced Tropical Storm Colin. Looking back she said: "Once we went through the Panama Canal it was all change. The second race of this leg started nice and sunny then slowly it got a little colder and wetter and with it the number of sail changes increased. Once through the Caribbean islands, Storm Colin was a wake up call. We hadn't really had any serious weather since leaving Seattle, a good five weeks earlier!"

The first stage of the race in the western side of the Caribbean Sea, up to the Windward Passage, usually sees fairly light winds with close to beam reach sailing. Once past Cuba, the fleet has to pick its way through the northern Caribbean Islands which can be characterised by fluky winds accompanied by spectacular displays of lightning. The third section of the race is back in the North Atlantic and the conditions will be greatly influenced by the Atlantic High with its clockwise circling winds.

This, the penultimate leg, sees the battle for leaderboard positions heat up. Each finishing position and scoring opportunity become all the more important as the chances to secure points become fewer. It's at this point the overall leaderboard really starts to shape up. With the competition often within sight, its head out of boat sailing and sees match racing with your closest competitors.

Clipper Race circumnavigators will not have been in the North Atlantic since crossing the equator when racing to South America around nine months earlier. A momentous occasion that often sees much self-reflection and thoughts of life after the race start to creep in.

In an extract from circumnavigator Charlie Garrett's crew blog, from during the 2017-18 edition, she said: "Time on board is running short; before we set sail 11 months felt like a lifetime and although it has felt like it at times, the reality is that this adventure has only been a snapshot in time. I am eager to return home to see friends and loved ones but with that follows a little trepidation as that means this experience will be over and I will have to say goodbye to the ones I have called family this year."

The variety of conditions, wildlife, Panama Canal, Caribbean sailing and incredible destinations means that the USA Coast to Coast Leg continues to be one of the most popular stages of the circumnavigation.

For more information visit

Related Articles

Clipper 2019-20 Race to restart in February 2022
Postponed race will eventually restart from Subic Bay We have made the difficult decision to postpone the restart of the Clipper 2019-20 Race. Posted on 28 Apr
Clipper Race: When the fog rolls in
Sailing offshore can be challenging yet beautiful For those lucky enough to know, sailing offshore can be challenging yet beautiful. The freedom that sailing affords takes you to different places, both geographically and mentally. Posted on 14 Mar
Meet the Clipper Race crew - Denis Nikolaytsev
Denis signed up to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the Clipper 2019-20 Race Despite having no previous sailing experience, Denis Nikolaytsev, 35, signed up to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the Clipper 2019-20 Race. Posted on 7 Mar
Four hours should be plenty of time to cook...
Crew Perspective from the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race On Visit Sanya, we run a 3 watch system. The various support watches have a set task and for Leg 5 that task is done for the whole of the leg as there is a 2hr time change between Airlie Beach & Subic Bay so there is no opportunity to shift meal times. Posted on 13 Feb
One year on: The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival
A year ago, the Clipper Race fleet was welcomed by the azure warm waters A year ago, the Clipper Race fleet was welcomed by the azure warm waters and white sandy shores of the Whitsundays after spending 19 tough days at sea racing around the coast of Australia. Posted on 31 Jan
It is supposed to make me uncomfortable!
Clipper Race crew perspective As someone who had never sailed before the four weeks training, I cannot believe that I have been on the ocean as part of the crew for 13 days already! Posted on 10 Jan
Navigating the nerve centre of a Clipper 70
Nav station houses all the necessary instruments and systems to safely navigate the vessel If you care to venture down below deck on a state-of-the-art Clipper 70 racing yacht, follow the narrow corridor aft to either port or starboard. Posted on 9 Jan
Clipper Race crew member embarks on next adventure
Adventurer doesn't seem to be enough to describe 50-year-old Craig Forsyth Adventurer doesn't seem to be enough to describe 50-year-old Clipper Race Alumni Craig Forsyth. Craig, a bricklayer and former professional Rugby League player from York, UK holds the title for taking part in the most editions of the Clipper Race. Posted on 13 Dec 2020
Sir Robin rooting for Alex Thomson
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sends a message of good luck ahead of the Vendée Globe With the Vendée Globe 2020-21 set to begin, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, sends a message of good luck to the Clipper 1998 Race winning Skipper Alex Thomson ahead his latest campaign. Posted on 8 Nov 2020
My heart now belongs to Punta
Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, Skipper of Punta del Este, pens an open letter Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, Skipper of Punta del Este, pens an open letter sharing his personal highlights from Punta del Este stopover. Posted on 25 Oct 2020
Selden 2020 - FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERLloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px2 BOTTOM