Clipper Race: Seattle Steps Up

Published on April 24th, 2016

Some of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 12-boat fleet suffered serious damage during the leg from China to Seattle, and it has some local businesses now racing to get the fleet back in top shape before the competition begins again on April 28.

“We really didn’t know how much work we were going to do,” said Alex Simanis, the owner and operator of Ballard Sails & Yacht Services. “We have a bunch of work for ourselves – building other sails and doing repairs – so it’s kind of pushed up backwards a little bit but we’re happy to work extra hours.”

Workers at Ballard Sails are repairing sails that were damaged due to heavy winds.

“The last leg was by far the worst of the entire circumnavigation so far and it’s what we expected,” said Ash Skett who is the Skipper of Team Garmin. “We knew it would be a tough leg.”

The Garmin boat sustained extensive damage from the heavy winds, including a broken bow sprit and bent stanchions.

At Seaview Boatyard, employees are making more repairs. “Actually, from what they encountered from their voyage from China to here I would consider the things we are doing are minor,” said owner Phil Riis.

For many in Seattle who service yachts, this is the busiest time of year but they’re enjoying the extra work.

“It’s an honor, candidly,” said Riis.

Ballard Sails was asked to help with repairs because they’ve got an industrial-size sewing machine that’s big enough to handle the Clipper sails. Simanis and his team are now working around the clock to finish the work before the boats leave for Panama on Thursday.

By the end of the race, which is expected in late July in London, the boats will have traveled more than 40,000 nautical miles. If the teams damage anything on the boats that need to be replaced then points are deducted from a team’s score.

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Background: The 40,000 mile Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race began in London, UK on August 30 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The series is divided into 16 individual races, with the team with the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew.

The fleet departed on March 21 from Qingdao, China for the 6,637 mile course to Seattle, USA. The fleet finished between April 14 and 17.

The ports along the race route are Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Albany, Sydney, Hobart and Airlie Beach, Australia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Qingdao, China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York, USA; Derry-Londonderry, Ireland; and Den Helder, Netherlands before returning to London by late July.

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