The Clipper Race is the world’s biggest round-The-world ocean race, and is also regarded as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet.
At 40,000 nautical miles long and taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of eleven 70-foot ocean racing yachts.
Over 700crew are expected to take part in the 2019-2020 edition. Crew can choose to take part in either the entire race or one or more legs.
The Clipper 2019-2020 Race will set sail in the summer 2019marking the event’s twelfth edition. It will return some eleven months later.
The Clipper 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.
40 percent of crews are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure. It is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date was 74. Crew must be aged 18 or over before starting the race.
This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to taxi drivers, nurses, and firemen, farmers, Olympians, airline pilots and students.
The Clipper Race Charity Partner for the 2019-2020 and the 2021-2022 editions is UNICEF. To date crew, supporters and Clipper Race Partners have raised over £690,000 for the charity race since the partnership began.
The overall route is split into 13 races and points are awarded for each race. The team with the highest cumulative points at the end of the final race wins the series, and the Clipper Race trophy.
It is estimated that the eleven teams will get through 561,000 tea bags while at sea over eleven months.
More than half a million litres of water is filtered through the fleet’s water makers.
On each yacht, round the world crew members will spend on average a minimum of 504 hours stood at the helm.
Each crew member will burn around 5,000 calories a day.
The biggest waves reported during the 2917-2018 race were over 14m tall, officially classified as a phenomenal sea state, during Leg 6 across the North Pacific.
The highest wind speed recorded was 94 knots during Leg 6 onboard Liverpool 2018, that’s 108mph.
The crews completed a combined total of over half a million training miles BEFORE the 2017-2018 race started.
To date the Clipper Race fleet has visited more than 50 different ports around the world.
During the race the fleet are closer to the International Space Station than inhabited land for approximately 40% of the time.
During the previous edition, the following countries were represented by a single crew member: Romania, Portugal, Peru, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, Chile, Bulgaria and Austria.
In 2017-2018 the top 10 Nationalities (out of 41) were: British (361), American (60), Australian (48), Chinese (39), German (25). French (21), South African (17), Irish (15), Canadian (14) and Swiss (13). Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic and Uruguay were represented for the first time.
Crew members in the last edition of the race represented 337 different occupations.
Building & Engineering, Medical & Care, Science & Tech and Teaching were the top 4.
Bravo Zulu is naval signal code for “manoeuvre well executed” or “job well done” and Tian Fu is the name of the 38,000 tonne general cargo ship that rescued British round-the-world sailor Susie Goodall in the South Pacific this weekend.
Like many, I have been following the story ever since Susie’s 35ft yacht, DHL Starlight was dismasted last Wednesday in 75mph winds and waves of 9m+. Dismasted not after just being rolled and capsizing but dismasted after surfing down the crest of a wave and being flipped end-over-end, stern over bow. At the time she was 4th in the Golden Globe race and about 2000 miles west of Cape Horn. It’s been quite a year for the Golden Globe (see Blog 23: The weather theme continued …. but spare a thought and prayer this Sunday for Abhilash Tomy, 23 Sep) and quite a year for women skippers! (See Blog 14: Girl Power!, 2 Aug). The arrival on scene of the Hong-Kong registered Tian Fu was not the end of the excitement as Susie then had to stand on the ruined hull of DHL Starlight and judge the right time to hook-on to the safety line winched down to her from the cargo vessel.
Perhaps not quite as bad as being flipped stern over bow but not without its challenges! Its enough to put some people off sailing…………… it certainly puts sea survival into perspective (see Blog 28: Level 2 Training Part 1. Sea Survival, 25 Oct) ……. and any of my own concerns pale into complete insignificance. For example …..
This time next year (give or take a week or so for artistic licence) I will be at a Board meeting of the Harwich Harbour Authority. One of the trickiest decisions I always face at such meetings is where to sit. Or perhaps not where exactly but rather which way to face. The CEO’s office, when doubling as the Board Room, offers spectacular views of part of the HHA ‘patch’.
Off to the left the river Stour leads up to Harwich International Port
and, further up stream, the small picturesque port of Mistley.
Looking directly ahead from the conference room is the confluence of the river Stour and the River Orwell and the view across the water towards Shotley.
Off to the right the river Stour leads 20 miles or so up to the port of Ipswich, passing sites of special scientific interest and a number of other yacht marinas. Generally speaking there is ALWAYS something to see which is something of a distraction to some (for “some” read “most”) of us – hence the tricky “where to sit decision.”
Next year I think it might be even harder. This time next year (slight crossing of fingers on my none typing hand) I will have completed my Clipper adventure for 2019 and will be back from Western Australia. Depending on how quickly or not we actually race I may only be just back, quite literally hanging my Musto smock up, as I open my laptop (paperless Board meetings 😉)
Leg2, the South Atlantic Challenge is roughly 3,560 nautical miles and is “programmed” to take 17-18 days. In the last race the leg was won by Greenings in 14 days, 1 hour and 50 minutes and the highest yacht speed on the leg was recorded as 30.9 knots! Not surprisingly, the South Atlantic Challenge is described as one for the thrill-seekers. On leaving South American waters teams encounter the Trade Winds and the long rolling swells of the South Atlantic towards South Africa.
Leg 3, the Southern Ocean Leg, also known as the Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride, is 4,754 nautical miles long, normally between Cape Town, South Africa and Freemantle, Western Australia. It is “programmed” for 23-24 days racing and in the last race the leg was won by Unicef in 24 days, 23 hours and 10 minutes. The highest reported yacht speed was 24.2 knots. This leg offers some of the most exhilarating and testing conditions of the entire circumnavigation, perhaps second only to Leg 6, the Mighty Pacific. On this leg we will dip into the notoriously strong winds of the Roaring Forties, which lie between 40 and 50 degrees south. Once clear of the stunning but fickle-winded Table Bay, the race will head for the first Great Cape – The Cape of Good Hope, and on to the Agulhas Bank, an area notorious for very disturbed seas where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Despite the gruelling reputation that the Roaring Forties command – we will be surfing downwind on some swells higher than buildings – this is a place respected by sailors world wide as one of the best places to fully appreciate Mother Nature in her most raw and powerful glory.
Put that way is can seem hard enough, but it can be harder than that. At the beginning of the last Leg 2, PSP Logistics collided with a whale that caused damage to the starboard rudder that necessitated a return to Uruguay. The delay caused by the subsequent repairs meant that by the time PSP Logistics rejoined the race the leaders were already approaching half way to Cape Town. And as if that was not enough, at the beginning of Leg 3, Greenings ran aground off the coast of South Africa and, while all the crew were evacuated safely, the yacht was subsequently declared a complete loss.
So, this time next year ………..
On the current “Board forward look” we already have four decision papers to review this time next year. I think I’ll be sitting facing away from the sea view!
Just come across a photo I had originally intended to use in the last blog – blog 35: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time … and The Reason I Jump, 26 Nov.
Rebekah (as Snow White) in deep and very largely non-verbal “conversation” with, appropriately enough, Captain Hook, thankfully as I recall at the time, minus irritating wig! Sadly Captain Hook has not yet featured on these pages (see Blog 12: A Bakers Dozen of Famous (and Infamous) Bearded Sailors (1), 21 Jul, and Blog 19: Half A Dozen More ….. Famous and Infamous Bearded Sailors, 31 Aug).