The biggest ever edition of the 40,000-nautical mile Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, involving everyday people, got underway in Liverpool, UK, today, in front of thousands of spectators.
After heading out of the River Mersey and into the Irish Sea, the twelve-strong Clipper Race fleet is heading 6,400 nM south, the equivalent distance of ten Fastnet Races, through the Atlantic Ocean towards Punta del Este, Uruguay. This opening leg of the eleven-month series will take approximately 35 days to complete and is the longest ever in the race’s 21-year history.
Wendy Tuck, 52 from Sydney, will fly the flag for Australia throughout the Clipper Race as the Skipper of Sanya Serenity Coast. Wendy, who has already completed a circumnavigation as a Skipper in the 2015-16 edition of the race, said: I’m feeling very excited about the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1.
“We will get everything though on the way to Punta del Este. It’s going to be a great shakedown leg because we will cover every sort of weather.”
712 non-professional crew, including 12 Australians, from all walks of life and including many who had no previous sailing experience, will face Mother Nature in this ultimate ocean challenge, representing 41 different nationalities.
Legendary sailor and Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was there to see the fleet off, said: “The Clipper Race has got bigger and better with each edition and I can’t help feeling incredibly proud as I watch our crew head off on what will certainly be a life changing journey.
Sir Robin, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the planet almost 50 years ago, founded the race to allow anyone, regardless of experience, the chance to experience ocean racing. He added: “Over the next eleven months, our crew and Skippers will get to face everything Mother Nature can throw at them. Upon their return, they will have crossed the world’s major oceans. Very few people get to say that.”
12 teams are competing in the race, including a GREAT Britain and a Liverpool 2018 team, plus a Unicef entry, representing the races official charity. For the first ever time, there are two Chinese teams, Sanya Serenity Coast and Qingdao.
The race is open to anyone, aged 18 and over with no upper age limit, who has a thirst for adventure and a desire to challenge themselves. The oldest competitor to date was 76. Each crew is led by a professional Skipper.
The Clipper 2017-18 Race will feature four Australian stopover ports, with the fleet to arrive in Fremantle from 21 November, 2017, before racing to Sydney, Hobart, and the Whitsundays. The global route will also include Cape Town, Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama, New York, and Derry-Londonderry.
After crossing six oceans and visiting thirteen stopover ports on six continents, the fleet will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock almost a year later for Race Finish on Saturday 28 July 2018, where one of the twelve teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.