The Times Clipper 2000 race from Yokohama to Shanghai has been suspended due to damage sustained by several yachts in the storm force 10 winds off the east coast of Japan. All crew and yachts are now safely back in Yokohama.

The fleet of identical 60-foot yachts have confronted winds of 50 knots gusting 65 knots, the highest experienced by the fleet since they left Portsmouth in October 2000. Paul Burke, skipper of Leeds Clipper, reports that winds have not fallen below 30 knots since the start of Race 7 from Yokohama on Monday 5th March at 10:00 local time.

Whilst the boats have handled the dramatic seas well under their No.3 Yankee sails and with 3 reefs in their mainsails, the wind and waves are not their only problem. The Japanese coast has very heavy maritime traffic so the yachts have to thread their way carefully through the shipping lane as they beat towards the southwest.

With the eight-strong Times Clipper 2000 fleet only 40-50 miles out of Yokohama, the Clipper Race Office has taken the sensible decision to recall the yachts. The skippers and crews have been met by race organiser Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in Yokohama, where repairs to the damaged yachts will now take place.

Commenting on the race suspension, record breaking international yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Jophnston said, ‘Despite their dramatic experiences racing in these very difficult conditions, the crews are in good heart, and realise that safety is paramount, and that the racing has to wait.’ Following Sir Robin’s decision for a general recall, The Times Clipper 2000 is expected to resume on Thursday 8th March, on the 950 nautical mile race from Yokohama to Shanghai.

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