On 28th July I partied with fellow crew members of the 2019-2020 Clipper race in Liverpool to celebrate the successful completion of the 2017-2018 edition of the Race.
On the following Monday I returned to Liverpool for my first look around a Clipper 70ft yacht, which will be my ‘home’ for the 4 legs of the Race starting, probably, in October next year. I had a good crawl around Liverpool 2018 and also watched the other Clipper yachts leave Liverpool for the last time to return to Clipper HQ back in Gosport. All in all it was an excellent couple of days. A great opportunity to meet old (new) friends from Level 1 training and to swap questions, doubts, problems, concerns and ideas with fellow adventurers looking forward to the 2019-2020 experience. Looking around Liverpool 2018 was my first experience of the Clipper 70ft yachts and the ‘evolution’ in the design from the 68ft yacht I had experienced back in April and will race again during Level 2 training in October was evident. The galley and saloon areas are perhaps the most striking as is the much larger ‘snake-pit’ on the upper deck. The wet lockers are bigger and better placed and the nav station, accessible from both sides and directly aft, at least appears to have better and easier communications with the helm.
If anything the interior around the bunk spaces actually appeared to me to be smaller or maybe I’m just slightly bigger than I was in April; both are possible!
The first edition Clipper yachts, that raced the 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 editions of the Race, were 60ft yachts based on a Camper and Nicholson Bluewater cruising yacht design but with a deck layout better suited to ocean racing and an enlarged rig.
Eight Clipper 60s were built and all are now owned privately. For the 2005 race, a new fleet of 68ft yachts were built to replace the 60s and the fleet was increased from eight boats to ten. The 68s longer hull line, taller mast (89ft 7 ins), lighter overall weight (two tons lighter than the 60s), and a flatter bottom meant faster boat speeds. The Clipper 68s have logged downwind surfs approaching 30 knots. All the yachts were built in China, the first time a fleet of racing yachts had been built in mainland China.
The Clipper 68s were ‘retired’ after the 2011-2012 race although two have been retained by Clipper and are based in Australia for crew training and corporate events and four hulls perform the same roles based at Clipper HQ in Gosport. I completed my Level 1 training in CV2 which raced as Glasgow: Scotland With Style in 2005-2006 (finished last!); Glasgow in 2007-2008 (finished 3rd); Jamaica in 2009-2010 (finished 5th) and New York in 2011-2012 (finished 6th).
The fleet of twelve Clipper 70s have raced from 2013 onwards and have now completed three circumnavigations. They were built in Qingdao, China. The yachts displace 31.7 metric tonnes and are 75ft long (23m), 18.5ft wide (5.65m), have a draft of 9.8ft (3m) and a masthead height of 95ft (29m). CV21 Henri Lloyd won the 2013 race, CV24 LMAX Exchange won the 2015 race and CV27 Sanya Serenity Coast won the 2017-2018 edition.
Two yachts have been lost during Clipper. CV4 Cork Clipper ran aground on the Gosong Mampango reef in the Java Sea in January 2010. The crew were successfully rescued and were aided by competitors Team California (later dismasted) and Team Finland. Cork Clipper was abandoned a few days later after it was decided that salvage was uneconomical. A replacement Clipper 68 was subsequently built to allow ten yachts to race in the 2011-2012 edition of the race. On 31st October 2017 CV24 Greenings ran aground on the rocky shoreline of the western side of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Once again all the crew were rescued and the yacht was wrecked.
Right now all the Clipper 70s are back in Gosport for refitting (they will be lifted from the water in twos) and for preparing for the 2019-2020 race. Crew allocation (to yachts and skippers) will be in May 2019 and I expect to complete Level 4 training in my allocated 70ft yacht and with my skipper sometime after that and ahead of race start in August 2019. Watch this space for news of the 2019 route , sponsors etc as news breaks 😉