2019-20 Clipper Race finally comes home
Published on July 31st, 2022
It took nearly three years to complete, but the 12th edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race can now celebrate the achievement of 11 evenly matched Clipper 70s successfully navigating the 41,000+ nm course for amateur crews led by a professional skipper.
Starting from London on September 1, 2019, the race’s arrival in Asian territory could not have been timed worse. The COVID-19 pandemic blocked the fleet from the planned routes in China, with race organizers negotiating with the Philippine government to pause the race at Subic Bay in March 2020.
It was not until March 2022 when a restart could take place, sending the fleet across the Pacific Ocean, with the route extending from Seattle to Panama with further stops in Bermuda, and New York before the Atlantic Ocean crossing to the Northern Irish city of Derry~Londonderry with the final finish in London.
After six ocean crossings, the 2019-20 Race Winner was Qingdao (see final results). Skippered by Chris Brooks, they had been the team to beat from early on in the circumnavigation, finishing on the podium eight times, scooping a top three position in over half of the fourteen total races in the global event.
“Being successful in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is not just due to the Skipper’s skills, it is down to how quickly the crew develop as a competitive team,” notes Clipper Race Founder Sir Robin-Knox Johnston. “The Skipper sets the example, but the crew have to want to do well if success is to follow.
“Crewing a yacht around the world is not for the faint hearted. From the frustrations and patience of the calms of the equator, to waves breaking over the boat and the wild surfs in the Roaring Forties and North Pacific, they have seen nature at its most aggressive and benign.
“Aching muscles from frequent sail changes of hard spells on the steering wheel; and sleep that comes in short bursts and never seems to last long enough, are just part of the challenge. They have learned that there is no escape from the ceaseless caring for the yacht but they have shared that experience with fellow crew members, living together in close proximity in a constantly moving home far from land.
“Every leg of the Clipper Race comes with its own demands to challenge the crews and each brings the satisfaction of having achieved something very out of the ordinary in this extreme sport.
“For those who have completed the full circumnavigation there is the satisfaction of knowing they join the few circumnavigators heavily outnumbered by the number of people who have climbed Mount Everest.
“But whether the crew have done one or maybe two legs, or circumnavigated, they know they have achieved something special with their lives. They can be very proud, just as we are immensely proud of them.”
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
Held biennially, the 2019-20 Clipper Race got underway September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. As the most subscribed round the world race, the 12th edition had attracted 688 crew representing 43 nationalities for the 41,000+ nm course.
However, when the fleet arrived in Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic blocked the fleet from the planned routes in China. The 11 Clipper 70s have remained at Subic Bay Yacht Club in the Philippines since March 2020 after organizers and Race Crew were forced to return home due to pandemic restrictions, with the restart taking place in March 2022.