Skippers set for 2023-24 Clipper Race
Published on May 16th, 2023
Following a selection process, the eleven skippers for the 2023-24 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race are set to lead teams of non professional sailors from all walks of life around the globe.
With nationalities from the UK, Uruguay, Portugal, South Africa, and the Netherlands, the skippers appointed to lead their teams around the world have collectively sailed over a million nautical miles and bring a vast range of experience and expertise.
With varied skills among the crew, teams are faced with Mother Nature’s best and worst conditions as they race across the world’s oceans. Therefore, the skippers leading the teams need to be of the highest caliber to ensure a safe and successful race.
Having proved their leadership and racing expertise, six of the eleven skippers selected were AQPs (First Mates) in the 2019-20 edition, two are new to the Clipper Race, and three are returning skippers.
“For a professional skipper, circumnavigating the globe can be seen as a pinnacle in their chosen career and that alone makes this job attractive,” noted Clipper Race Director Mark Light. “However, racing around the world brings huge responsibility and great demands. This is why we look for not only elite sailors and skippers, but also exceptional leaders and good people.
“Taking on the challenge of leading a crew from diverse backgrounds over an eleven-month long odyssey can be relentless but the rewards are extremely satisfying. On the sailing side, race skippers have to be highly experienced, well-qualified and experts in the field of sailing, navigating, racing, instructing and coaching. There is also related experience required in many other areas such as weather routing, yacht maintenance, incident management and most of all, safety.
“Other skills that are less obvious, but equally important are the ability to mentor, support, team build, motivate and inspire others. And certainly not forgotten are the other subjects that are seldom talked about as being important on board an ocean-going yacht; clear communications, organized conflict resolution, medical experience, crew well-being and media capabilities.”
The eleven Race Skippers:
• Hannah Brewis, 26, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, raced dinghies from a young age but having been introduced to large racing yachts when she was a teenager, has been set on building her career as a professional skipper. She has logged over 40,000nm through a career as an instructor and flotilla skipper, as well as her role as First Mate on board Seattle for the second half of the 2019-20 edition.
• Ineke van der Weijden, 49, from the Netherlands has spent 70,000 nautical miles at sea. Ineke changed her career as an International Consultant to become a professional skipper after completing the Clipper 2017-18 Race as crew. Since then, she has raced on Legs 6-8 as an AQP on the last edition, alongside multiple yacht deliveries. Having completed every leg except Leg 3, Ineke is ready to tick off a full circumnavigation, this time leading a crew around the world as a skipper.
• Dan Bodey, 32, from Rayleigh, Essex, sailed dinghies and cruisers from a young age around the East Coast of the UK. Dan joined the Clipper 2019-20 Race on Unicef as a circumnavigator and quickly progressed to watch leader. Having taken a break from his civil engineering career to sail around the world, he fell in love with competitive ocean racing, and decided he wanted to make a profession out of his passion. Subsequently returning as AQP for the second half of the edition, whilst logging over 50,000nm in the process, he now is excited to lead his own team to help them achieve their own goals.
• David Hartshorn, 58, originally from Cardiff, first joined the Clipper Race as crew on Leg 6 in the 2015-16 edition. Following a distinguished career in the police force David has embarked on a successful second career in sailing, where becoming a Clipper Race Skipper is still one of his proudest moments. Sailing throughout his life and after circumnavigating the globe covering different legs as a race skipper for the previous two editions, racking up over 129,000nm in his log book, David is ready to come back and lead a team to complete the race from start to finish.
• Ryan Gibson, 34 is a new face to the Clipper Race but no stranger to extreme conditions; he has sailed to remote ports in Svalbard in the Arctic and Alaska and he has crossed the Atlantic five times. Ryan’s racing background and competitive streak will put him in good stead for the Clipper Race but his main focus is on safely leading an amateur crew around the world and passing on his knowledge and skills to other people.
• Fernando ‘Nano’ Antia Bernardez, 33, Uruguayan and Portuguese, from Punta del Este. Having progressed from Clipper Race Crew on the 2017-18 edition to a First Mate on the previous race, Nano has a whole host of racing experience. Along with a little over 1.5 circumnavigations, he has logged some mileage on notable events such as the Fastnet Race and the Rolex South Atlantic Circuit. He will be the first Uruguayan and South American skipper on the Clipper Race, bringing a competitive edge alongside his love for adventure.
• James Finney, 28, from Southampton returns as a Clipper Race Skipper after completing the Clipper 2019-20 Race as an AQP on Zhuhai. James has also skippered on the Knox-Johnson Cup in 2022, and worked as a Training Mate at Clipper Ventures HQ. He has clocked up over 65,000nm in his sailing career through the Clipper Race and additional work in Greece and the BVIs as a sailing instructor.
• Josh Stickland, 35 from Southampton and now living on the Isle of Wight, returns to lead a team for the second consecutive edition of the Clipper Race. First taking to the water aged 10, it was with the Prince’s Trust support that Josh qualified as a Watersports Instructor and he has never looked back. The professional sailor has worked all over the globe on yachts and superyachts, but the pull of the Clipper Race was too strong. Josh will be building on his strong coaching and team development skills, teamed with his experience of over 150,000 nautical miles at sea, to deliver a competitive campaign during the 2023-24 edition.
• Mike Miller, 54, living in Portsmouth, is a highly experienced sailor who has over 110,000 nautical miles (nm) recorded in his log book, Mike is returning for his third consecutive Clipper Race. Leaving the corporate world behind, Mike was Race Crew during the Clipper 2017-18 Race and returned as AQP and subsequently Race Skipper during the 2019-20 edition. Whilst Mike knows that winning races is just one aspect of the Clipper Race experience, he is looking to build on successes in previous editions and has a focus on performance success and will be putting up a tough and ambitious fight for the podium spots.
• Max Rivers, 29, was born in Scotland and raised on the Isle of Wight. Having joined the Clipper 2019-20 Race from the restart as an AQP, Max returns to the 2023-24 edition as a Skipper. He skippered the Great British Paddle support yacht on an expedition to circumnavigate the UK and has approximately 30,000 nautical miles under his belt. Max has traveled around the world, working as a sailing instructor in countries such as France, Greece and Australia.
• Greg Hunt, 35, British and South African, is a new face on the Clipper Race. He has participated in many offshore races and crossed the Atlantic a total of 23 times on boats ranging from 40 to 130 feet in length, five times as skipper. Having the ability to remain calm and manage the most precarious scenarios with confidence will be an advantage for Greg when skippering his team around the globe. Being selected as a skipper is one of Greg’s greatest achievements.
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. While the start date is not yet confirmed, the 2023-24 race will be the 13th edition with the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s to will tackle the multi-stage 41,000+ nm course.
Race details: www.clipperroundtheworld.com