Header image: Henri Lloyd in St Katharine Docks before the race start

It’s a race? What do all those terms mean?

It occurs to me that we haven’t told you about how Anita’s boat Henri Lloyd is faring so far!

Before we go into lots of detail, a little background information.

The Overall Race

The overall race is made up of 16 smaller races. The winner of the overall race is determined by the number of points each of the twelve boats in the fleet has accumulated over the smaller races. The boat that has the most points is the overall winner.

Race 3 Viewer

Race 3 Viewer

Finish Line Points

Every race allocates points for the position past the finish line, first = 12 points down to last = 1 point.

Scoring Gates

Most races have a scoring gate (shown in the image as a vertical blue line) which is a fairly short line. The first 3 boats whose skipper and crew chooses to cross this line can gain an additional 3, 2 or 1 extra points. It is optional, so each boat / skipper / crew can decide whether it is worth passing though this gate which can make their overall distance longer. Normally (at least for Races 2, 3 and 4) this scoring gate is on the Rhumb line (the shortest distance two points on the earth’s surface, shown in red). However, weather or other conditions may make this not worth the effort. This is a huge tactical decision.

Ocean Sprints

Again, most but not all, races have an ocean sprint (shown as parallel yellow lines). This is a wide area of between 300 and 400 nautical miles. Each boat is timed between these 2 points and the fastest can gain an extra 2 points. This could be the last boat through – it purely depends on the shortest time between the points. When the fleet is strung out over a few hundred miles, as they have been, those at the back could experience very different weather conditions from the leading boats.

Penalty Points

Penalty points can also be subtracted for any infringement of Clipper rules such as beating the starting gun, straying into a forbidden area (such as too far south), damage to equipment that the crew cannot repair etc.


Redress – if Clipper asks a boat to suspend racing in order to offer assistance to another boat, they offer redress to that boat. This is in the form of time. So the time elapsed between suspending and continuing racing is measured and deducted from the overall time taken to complete the race. So the eventual race positions may be different from the actual position in which each vessel crosses the finish line. Normally the vessel needing assistance is not offered redress. See also the comment below this post!

Le Mans Style Start

A different method of starting a race.

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  1. puffinld on 14 January 2014 at 15:42

    It has now become obvious that redress isn’t always given as a time allowance. The Clipper judge can also award redress as a average of points won to date.