Clipper Race: Snakes and ladders

Published on July 23rd, 2018

(July 23, 2018; Day 1) – The final race of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway yesterday following a spectacular stopover and send off from Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Tricky conditions in the initial stages of Race 13 to Liverpool, UK has seen the leaderboard changing frequently over the first 15 hours of racing but as the fleet begins to pass Tory Island, it is Qingdao which currently leads the fleet.

“It was an intense start to a race,” noted Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson. “We were on the line bang on time – not the windward boat but in clear air. Made it to the first mark in fourth.

“Then for the next four hours we flew Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker), yankee, windseeker, Code 1, windseeker, yankee – and we are back on track in the forecast west south westerly beating to windward in moderate breeze.”

After opting to play the Joker Card in the final race the pressure is on for the final podium positions, as Visit Seattle will double its race points in this final race. Despite this she adds: “Who knows how the next five days will pan out. All we can do is our best and enjoy these last moments at sea.”

For Sanya Serenity Coast, currently sixth in Race 13, the light winds during the first few hours dented its strong start. Skipper Wendy Tuck, racing to hold onto the team’s overall lead in this final stage, said: “We started off with a great start and ended up being second out of the very picturesque River Foyle. Then ohh no, another light wind patch, so the fleet compressed again, it was a game of snakes and ladders, then in the end we ended up on a snake.

“So now we are playing a bit of catch up, and the trouble is now, all we wanted to do was cover Visit Seattle. We were doing a good job of it, then when dark came we lost them.”​

Already we can see a split in tactics as half the fleet head in shore led by Qingdao, Liverpool 2018 and Unicef, first, second and third respectively. The other half, sitting in the bottom half of the fleet, look to have opted for a more offshore route. As throughout this entire edition, however, racing remains extremely tight with less than 20 nautical miles separating the whole fleet and 5nm is all that stands between the top six.

Decisions on how to navigate the west coast of Ireland will be influential as Simon Rowell, Clipper Race Meterologist, reports that the west south westerly wind that the fleet is experiencing is going to continue to be the theme until the fleet reach Mark Fastnet meaning the fleet will continue the tough beat upwind.

The anti-clockwise course around Ireland to Liverpool is expected to take five days. The final race will conclude with a thrilling sprint finish up the River Mersey on July 28, towards the Royal Albert Dock. Sailing fans will be able to watch the Sprint Finish and Prize Giving live on July 28 between 0900 and 1515 BST at

Event detailsRace factsRace viewerFacebook

The 11 teams began the final Leg 8 which carries the fleet across the North Atlantic from New York, USA, to Liverpool, UK, via Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Leg 8 is formed of two races, with the first being the 3000nm Race 12 from USA to IRL that got underway June 26 and Race 13 which began July 22 to return to the UK almost a year later for the final finish on July 28.

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.

Race RouteRace Schedule and Miles


Source: Clipper Ventures


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