Race 4 of Clipper 2002, the longest round the world yacht race, gets underway tomorrow, Saturday 28 December, on an 895 nautical mile race from Flamenco Island, Panama City, to Isla Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands.
The fleet of eight matched 60-foot yachts, namely Bristol, Cape Town, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liverpool, London and New York, will start their next race at 12:30 local time (17:30 GMT) from just to seaward of the brand new Flamenco Marina, some 3 miles south of Panama City.
Having swiftly traversed the Panama Canal in superb sunshine, the fleet spent Christmas in Panama City and will celebrate New Year whilst at sea heading for Galapagos, where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution. The fleet are expected to arrive in the equatorial Galapagos Islands on Sunday, 5 January 2003.
Simon Rowell and the crew of Jersey Clipper, winners of race 3 from Cuba to Colon (Panama), are currently leading the fleet in the overall rankings on 20 points, with London and Bristol in close pursuit on 16 and 15 points respectively. After a welcome five-day break in Galapagos, the fleet will then start Race 5 to Hawaii on 10 February. This 4,200 miles race will be the longest of the entire eleven-month circumnavigation.
Following their charge across the eastern Pacific Ocean, during which the fleet will cross the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), also known as the Doldrums, the crews will enjoy a 10 day break in Hawaii whilst fettling their yachts and welcoming new crew members.
The fleet visit to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu will be based in the newly built Ko Olina Marina, on the South West corner of the Island. Surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and shady picnic areas, the Clipper crews will also be treated to incredible views of the Wainanae mountain range.
The third crew leg of the journey starts on 12 February and crosses from Hawaii to Japan, then up the Yangtze River to Shanghai and on to Hong Kong. The fleet will then race on to the Philippines, Singapore, Mauritius, Cape Town, Brazil and New York before the final Atlantic crossing to Jersey. A short sprint back to Liverpool, the North West's nautical capital, will ensure an exhilarating race finish with an expected arrival date of 27 September 2003.