May had already seen a flurry of announcements – UNICEF, Zhuhai, Sanya and Qingdao all sponsoring boats in this edition – Zhuhai, UNICEF and Visit Sanya hulls all branded and the skipper pairing of Chris Brooks to skipper Qingdao, Seumas Kellock to skipper Visit Sanya, Nick Leggatt to skipper Zhuhai and Ian Wiggin to skipper the “Big Blue Boat” – UNICEF. The 11 AQP’s (Additional Qualified Persons) or Mate’s were selected and Cape Town, South Africa and Whitsundays, Australia confirmed as Leg 2/Leg3 and Leg4/Leg5 stopover ports. BUT, heading to Portsmouth for crew allocation we still did not know 5 of the stopover ports, where the Race would be starting/finishing in the UK, nor the dates, nor which teams we would be in and who we would be sailing with. I’ll describe the day in full in a future post but the most important bits for me ……………………….. drum roll please ………………………
The Race will start and finish at St Katherine’s Dock in London. The initial departure, as a Parade of Sail, will be on Sunday 1 September, although the Race will start properly off Southend the following morning. Similarly the Race will conclude with a Parade of Sail up the river Thames on a date to be confirmed in early August 2020.
Punta del Este, Uraguay was announced as the Leg1/Leg2 stopover port, Seattle as the Leg6/Leg7 stopover port and dates were published for all Legs up to and including arrival in Panama half way through Leg 7. Importantly the Leg 8 start port – East Coast of the USA was not yet ready to be announced so I, the circumnavigators and the other Leg 8ers still await news – hopefully before the end of May.
After the initial briefings it was the turn of the skippers to “open the sealed envelopes”, “BAFTA/Oscars” style and read out the names of their crew – half a crew at a time. So it was when the 11th skipper – Ian Wiggin – read out the first half of HIS crew that my name appeared and, having already known Ian was skippering the UNICEF boat, that I first learned my boat for the 2019-2020 edition.
I wrote a little bit about Ian Wiggin in Blog 54: Clipper 2019-2020 Skippers Announced, published 26 Mar, and obviously you will hear more about him, and probably from him, over the next 15 months or so.
The complete crew totals 65 including skipper Ian and Mike Miller, 50, our AQP or Mate. Of the 63 amateur crew, 42 are men, 21 women and we represent 14 different nationalities. The youngest is 18 and the oldest is 70. 8 will circumnavigate the globe, 2 of us are completing 4 legs (not the same 4!), 4 crew will complete 3 legs (3 of them completing 1 – 3 and 1 doing 6, 7 and 8), 15 will complete 2 Legs and 34 will complete a single Leg.
My Race will start in Punta del Este, Uruguay, joining the UNICEF yacht on 18 October with Leg 2 across the South Atlantic starting on 23 October. Leg 2 will comprise a single race of 3,600 nautical miles to Cape Town, South Africa. The arrival window into Cape Town (the dates between which all the yachts are expected to arrive) will be 7 – 11 November.
Leg 3 across the Southern Ocean, will start from Cape Town on 17 November and will comprise a single race of 4,750 nautical miles to Freemantle Australia. The arrival window in Freemantle will be 9 – 14 December with crew changeover on 17 December when I will disembark.
I will rejoin the UNICEF yacht in the Chinese port of Zhuhai for crew changeover on 4 March 2020 prior to the start of Leg 6 up the Chinese coast and then across the Mighty North Pacific. Leg 6 will start from Zhuhai (see Blog 18: First 2019-2020 stopover announced … Zhuhai…. yes I had to look it up too, published 26 Aug 2018) on 9 March and will comprise 2 races. The first is up the Chinese coast and inside the Korean peninsula to the Chinese port of Qingdao. The arrival window into Qingdao will be 17 – 19 March and there will be no crew changeover.
The second race of Leg 6 will start from Qingdao on 26 March and will race around the southern tip of Japan and across the International Date Line and the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle, USA. The arrival window into Seattle will be 19 – 24 April. Crew changeover will be 27 April when I will disembark. The total distance for Leg 6 will be 6,950 nautical miles.
I will rejoin team UNICEF for the final leg, Leg 8, across the North Atlantic, in a port yet to be announced, on the east coast of the USA. This is likely to be in mid June 2020. The final leg will include a stopover in Northern Europe (somewhere within 800 – 1000 nautical miles from London, and then a final race to the London finish. The return Parade of Sail up the Thames to St Katherine’s Dock will be in early August 2020.
And finally, at least for the moment ………….. some help in the Where’s Wally? from the first photo:
……. to be continued …..