Clipper Race: Far east to far west

Published on March 23rd, 2018

Qingdao, China (March 23, 2018) – The most eagerly anticipated stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway today from Qingdao, ahead of a gruelling test covering over 5,500 nautical miles across the North Pacific Ocean towards Seattle, USA.

Generally referred to as ‘The Big One’, the eleven Clipper Race teams slipped lines at 1100 local time (0300 UTC) ahead of starting Race 9 of the thirteen-stage circumnavigation.

Having already sailed more than halfway round the globe since departure from Liverpool, UK, last August, the Clipper Race fleet is now gearing up to cross the planet’s largest ocean where the teams are expected to battle bitterly cold temperatures and huge waves, and at times the closest people to the teams will be those above in the International Space Station.

For one of the teams, Visit Seattle, the destination will be extra special. Ahead of setting sail for her team’s home port, Skipper Nikki Henderson, 24 from Surrey, UK, said: “I can’t believe it’s here finally. We’re really excited to get there, there’s just the small challenge of sailing across the Pacific in the middle.

“It’s an endurance race that the crew are going into and they’re definitely in a really strong mental state and I think they’re ready to hit the challenge head on.”

Due to fog, the start of Race 9, under Le Mans conditions, will be slightly delayed until at least first light tomorrow (Saturday 24 March morning local time) and further updates will be provided on the Clipper Race website:

After the start, and once clear of the Chinese fishing fleets, the teams will use the southern tip of Japan as their first major marker but once passed, the North Pacific awaits and will soon bring with it some very cold temperatures, big conditions and dark nights at sea.

Famous for its huge Pacific roller waves, which pick up the yachts and allow them to surf along at speeds reaching 30 knots, it’s being out here that the participants will really understand and appreciate the magnificent scale of our planet and their place within it.

Simone Talfourd, 33, a marketing manager, is a round the world crew member on board Garmin. Ahead of departing, she said: “It will be really hard, it will be challenging but we’ve seen tough weather before. I think this time it’s more about the duration, up to possibly 28 days and through a full-frontal system which is likely to get progressively harder. That, coupled with the inaccessibility of land means it’s always on your mind that you’re miles away from anything, but we’re ready mentally for it.”

After approximately 24-29 days of non-stop racing in some of the most remote and extreme conditions of the entire circumnavigation, the Clipper Race fleet is set to arrive into Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina between April 14-19.

It will be the second consecutive stopover in the West Coast USA city, with the Clipper Race previously visiting during the 2015-16 edition.

Since departing Liverpool on August 20 last year, the Clipper Race teams have raced almost 25,000 nm through the Atlantic and Southern Oceans as well as the South China sea, taking them via; Punta del Este, Uruguay; Cape Town, South Africa; Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart, and the Whitsundays, Australia; and Sanya and Qingdao in China.

Following the Seattle Stopover, the Clipper Race fleet will depart again on April 29 when the fleet will race over 6,000 nautical miles from Seattle to Panama during the first of two races that forms The US Coast-To-Coast Leg 7. From there, the teams will race on to New York, Derry-Londonderry, and Liverpool, where the Clipper 2017-18 Race will finish on July 28, 2018.

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Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve* identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. The race concludes in Liverpool on July 28.

Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.

* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (Greenings) ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.

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Source: Clipper Ventures

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