Descending Dragons……. the latest team and future host port partner

The Countdown clock on the official clipper website tells me that, as I start writing this blog, there are 24 Days, 18 Hours, 23 Minutes and 10 Seconds to go until Race Start, but who’s counting?? Actually I AM. Although I don’t start racing on 1st September I will be there on the day and I still have much to do before starting out for South America in early October.

One of the crocodiles nearest the canoe is Prep Week and I will be joining some fellow UNICEF crew members down in Gosport this coming Saturday for the final Portsmouth based preparations before the Clipper fleet leaves Portsmouth on Tuesday 20th August for St Katherine’s Dock. An even nearer crocodile is that I am still a number of blogs “missing” from the list I produced in Blog 65 (Rather Like London Buses …. nothing for AGES and then more than you know what to do with! published 19 Jul 2019), most notably the UNICEF Team Building Weekend and Level 4 training, in order to get up to date prior to Prep Week and, just when I thought it was safe to start typing, along comes another Clipper announcement.

You will recall that at the end of the blog before last (Blog 69: Clipper yacht branding – almost complete, published 29 Jul 2019)  I mentioned that there were, at the time of writing, two “un-named” yachts in the 2019-2020 edition. Well not anymore. This week has seen the announcement that Quang Ninh Province in northeast Vietnam has signed a two edition deal with the Clipper Race that will see a team entry this year followed by an appearance as a Host Port Partner in 2021-2022. The Quang Ninh Province is home to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site Ha Long Bay and this years team entry will be called “Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.”

Ha Long Baygif

Recognised twice as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO, Ha Long Bay is a stunning destination and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam’s number one tourism hub. The name “Ha Long” means “descending dragons” and local legend has it that after fighting invaders, Mother Dragon and her children decided to stay in the mortal world forever and turned into thousands of islands scattered on the Bay to protect this sacred land. So “team Josh” becomes Team “Ha Long Bay Vietnam.”



Advert time ……. go on, it’s for a great cause.

Lindy Scarborough, one of our growing number of UNICEF crew supporters and wife of fellow team mate Graham Scarborough (Leg 7),  is a professional jeweller and has been busy in her workshop (now known as the Boat Yard) designing and making solid silver stylised designer Clipper necklaces and earrings. Initially Lindy made one for herself to wear at the Crew Allocation Day back in May but they have attracted such widespread interest that, after consultation with UNICEF and Clipper Ventures plc, Lindy has stepped up production.

Each piece is handmade in solid sterling silver. There are two sizes of necklace available. Medium with an 18 inch chain at £89.00 and Large (a statement piece) with a 28 inch chain at £139.00 – both prices are plus special delivery p&p charged at cost. 20% of any sales will be given to the team UNICEF charity fundraising effort.

if you are interested in either the necklaces or the earrings then please e-mail Lindy direct at (she knows I am posting this) and before you ask, of course I’m placing an order!



Clipper yacht branding – almost complete

CV 31 – UNICEF in which I completed Level 4 training and will complete Legs 2, 3, 6 and 8 of the next Race. Ironically I did Level 3 training in the all white, and at the time, unbranded, CV31. See Blog 60: Level 3 Training, Part 2 published 4 May 2019

Zhuhai was the first Clipper 2019-2020 yacht to be branded back in March (See Blog 51: Clipper 2019-2020 First Boat Branding, published 8 March 2019) and now as the Countdown Clock on the official Race website ticks down through 33 Days, 17 Hours, 37 Minutes and 15 Seconds to Race Start, pretty much all the team sponsor and yacht brandings are now complete.




UNICEF, Visit Sanya, WTC Logistics, Dare To Lead, Zhuhai, Punta del Este, Seattle Qingdao and Go Bermuda. Only two more to be announced. Watch this space.

It’s Time ….. almost for me but definitely for YOU.

its time NOW, if you haven’t already done so, to sign up as a Clipper 2019-2020 Race Crew Supporter…….

Some of the team UNICEF Crew Supporters at Crew Allocation day

……. and most importantly this can be done from the comfort of your own armchair, it doesn’t involve strange MUSTO outfits, you might NEVER get cold and wet AND ITS FREE.

You can sign up to join the Race Crew Supporters network to find more about the Race at  Scroll down to the bottom of the page, complete the form, tick the box to receive the Crew Supports Newsletter and its “job done”. Painless. And while you are on the official website check out the UNICEF team page and links to the official Facebook page and Twitter feeds. Failing that you could always ask me to send you a postcard or a message in a bottle 😉


The Race Schedule and MY Race Schedule

When “we” last “spoke” about the race schedule – post crew allocation (See Blog 62: Crew Allocation Day (1)….. The Bits We’ve All Really Been Waiting For, published 18 May 19) there were, not to put too fine a point on  it, a few missing links. Specifically we were still awaiting announcements on one additional stopover port for Leg 1, an announcement regarding a South East Asia port for Leg 5 and, more significantly for yours truly, ALL of the details for the final leg, Leg 8. What we did know back then was that Race Start (and finish) would be London, and Punta del Este, Cape Town, Freemantle, The Whitsundays, Sanya, Zhuhai, Qingdao and Panama were announced or confirmed as stopover ports. With Seattle announced as a partner/boat sponsor then Seattle as a stopover port was pretty much guaranteed…… or maybe that last bit was the other way around, but you know what I mean.

Since then there have been a plethora of announcements on all-things-Clipper and the final piece of the scheduling jigsaw, the homecoming leg stuff, was finally announced when I was at sea completing my Level 4 training with the UNICEF team onboard CV31, the UNICEF boat. More about Level 4 training in a later blog but first here’s the complete Clipper 2019-2020 Race schedule and, if you will permit me a slightly selfish note, here is what it means for ME!


Let me try and bring that to life a little. Leg 1 will start from St Katherine’s Dock, London, St Katherines Dock1440949907ClipperStart_MD0714_(1)on Sunday 1st September 2019. The Departure ceremony will begin at 1350 with the first yacht slipping at 1500. The Parade of Sail down the River Thames should start at around 1600. The Race itself will start off Southend the following morning. Leg 1 (The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg) consists of 2 separate races over a total distance of 7250 nautical miles.Clipper_Round_the_World_Portimao-500 The Yachts are due to arrive in Portimao, Portugal between 8th-10th September. This will be a first stopover for the Clipper Race in Portimao. The Race restarts on Sunday 15th September heading for the Equator and then on to South America. The yachts are due to arrive in Punta del Este, Uruguay between 12th-16th October.

PDE1I am contracted to report to the UNICEF boat, in Punte del Este on 18th October and the Race restarts for Leg 2 on Wednesday 23rd October.  Leg 2 (The South Atlantic Challenge) comprises a single race to South Africa over some 4,200 miles using the South Atlntic trade winds and long rolling South Atlantic swells. Surfing down the fronts of these swells can bring boat speeds of over 20 knots and the leg poses unique mental and physical challenges. I will be due into Cape Town, South Africa during CapeTown3the window 7th-11th November for a well earned break. New joiners must report to their yachts on 12th November . Leg 3, and my second Leg, starts from Cape Town on Sunday 17th November. Leg 3 (The Southern Ocean Leg)  comprises a single race of 5500 nautical miles from Cappe Town to Freemantle, Western Australia. On leaving Cape Town and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, we will tack down towards the 40th parallel and the infamous Roaring Forties. The Southern Ocean provides some of the most extreme and exhilarating sailing in the world. I have been told to expect 80 foot swells, boat speeds of over 30 knots and wind speeds that can reach 70mph+. With winds sometimes coming straight from Antartica it can also be somewhat chilly! The Southern Ocean is probably the most remote Ocean on the planet and, apart from FM1the other Clipper yachts, for miost of the time our nearest companions will be the astronauts in the International Space Startion. Leg 3 is due to finish with arrival info Freemantle during the window 9th-14th December and I must vacate my berth onboard UNICEF on the 17th December. I will return home shortly thereafter.

Leg 4 (The Australian Coast -To-Coast Leg) will start from Freemantle on Sunday 22nd December 2019 and will comprise a single race of 4000 nautical miles around Australia to Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays where, having spent Christmas and the New Year at sea, the yachts will arrive during the window 9th-12th January 2020. Crew changeover, for those joining and leaving will be on 13th January and the Race restarts with Leg 5 on Saturday 18th January. Leg 5 (The Asia-Pacific Challenge) consists of 3 races over 6300 nautical miles. The first race will be from The WhitSundays to the Chinese port of Sanya with an arrival window of 10th-15th February. There will be no crew changeover in Sanya and the race restarts on Friday 21st February. The second race of Leg 5 will be to Subic Bay in the Philippines, another first for the Clipper Race. The arrival window into Subic Bay will be 25th-26th February and once again their will be no crew changeover. The final race of this leg will start from the Philippines on Friday 28th February and will race back to China and the port of Zhuhai. The arrival window into Zhuhai will be 2nd-3rd March.

I will rejoin the UNICEF boat in Zhuhai on 4th March along with the other Leg 6Zhuhai2 leggers and the race will restart on Monday 9th March. Leg 6 (The Mighty Pacific) will comprose 2 races over 8000 nautical miles. The first race will be from Zhuhai up the Chinese coast, inside the Korean Peninsula to the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao. The weather will turn significantly colder and the winds are likely to be from directly ahead, kicking up challenging sea states. One of the coldest parts of the race ends with one of the Qingdaos_partnership_with_the_Clipper-77a13cfadd7b9d5a0991c8959f50969dwarmest welcomes and the arrival window into Qingdao will be 17th-19th March. There will  be no crew changeover and the race restarts on Thursday 26th March. The race rounds the southern tip of Japan before entering the Pacific proper. After crossing the International Date Line and encountering monsterous North Pacific swells, landfall is a further 6000 miles away on the north west coast of the USA and a great entry into Seattle. The arrival window into Seattle will be between 19th-24th April and I will leave the yacht again at crew changeover on 27th April. The Race will leave Seattle for Leg 7 on Saturday 2nd May.Seattle5

Leg 7 (The USA Coast-To-Coast Leg) consists of 2 races over 7200 nautical miles. The first race is down the US Pacific coast from Seattle to Panama with an arrival window into Flamenco Island Marina on the Pacific coast between 27th May and 2nd June. After transitting the Panama canal the second race of Leg 7 will start from the Shelter Bay Marina on the Atlantic end of the Canal on Friday 5th June and will race north to New York. The arrival window into Liberty Landing Marina, New York will be 16th-19th June.

NY3I will rejoin in New York on the final crew changeover day, 22nd June 2020. Leg 8, the final leg ((The Atlantic Homecoming Leg) will comprise 3 races over some 4400 nautical miles. The first race will start from New York on Saturday 27th June and will race to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Bermuda, a first appearance in Clipper for the island of Bermuda. Our arrival window into Bermuda will be 1st-2nd July Bermuda2and there will be no crew changeover. We restart the race from Bermuda on Thursday 9th July heading for Derry-Londonderry and the famous Foyle Marime Festival, a stopover which has featured regularly now in the Clipper schedule. The arrival window into Derry-Londonderry will be 23rd-27th July and again there will be no crew changeover. The final race of Leg 8 and the final race of Derry-Londonderry1Clipper 2019-2020 will start from Derry-Londonderry on Sunday 2nd August. The podium places on the overall race have been decided on the last race of Leg 8 on the last three editions of the Race so there might still be all to play for. The race is due to finish  in the Thames estuary probably on Saturday 7th August and the final Parade of Sail will return up the River Thames to St Katherines Dock, and my Clipper 2019-2020 Race will finish, on Sunday 8th August 2020.StKatheruinesDock

Another post about booze!

I’ve written before about booze ….. gin to be precise (See Blog 49: Manannan Mac Lir, published 23 Feb 2019). Time to go a little bit more upmarket …… champagne.

One of the reasons for a paucity of June blogs was something of “champagne run ashore” to the champagne houses of Philbert, Grongnet and Philipponnat all located south of Eperney in France. It also proved an interesting exercise in packing/loading!



On my safe return I celebrated by opening a bottle of, appropriately enough, COMMODORE Champagne. Here’s what was written in the tasting notes …..

“From what one knows of the life of men in ancient times, there were always some who were destined to rule over their peers. These were the heads of families, heads of clans, tribal chiefs, spiritual leaders….. With the development of civilisation, the qualities of courage, willpower, perseverance and perceptiveness became the main features of these often charismatic men or women who were the leaders of the day. It was towards the end of the 18th century that one first saw a new title in the English Navy to characterise a supreme commander: “Commodore”.  Castellane has paid homage to all those who possess these qualities. Jewel of the house of de Castellane, since 1961, the Cuvee Commodore, presented in an original and unique bottle, is a champagne of superb character, made from the house’s finest grapes, each time is an exceptional year.”


Don’t blame me, I didn’t write this stuff but I rather like the courage, willpower, perseverance and perceptiveness bit. I feel it may come in handy 😉.

Rather Like London Buses……… nothing for AGES and then more than you know what to do with!

Its been quite a while since I last wrote a Blog. In fact, having managed 5 or 6 a month for a year I only published one last month. It’s NOT that nothing has been happening……….. actually LOTS and LOTS has been going on AND, post Crew Allocation in May Clipper has been getting very VERY REAL. June was somewhat domestically pre-occupied …………….


…… and more about that (maybe) in a subsequent blog.  But the last few days and weeks have been extremely hectic and therefore, rather like waiting for a London bus, you wait for what seems like AGES and then along come more than you know what to do with so …….



Level 4 training,

More Musto Kit,

Prep Week,

How the Race is scored,

The (Addictive) Race Viewer, and

Race Start

……………. not necessarily in that order!

There are now 44 days until race start and 91 days until I report onboard the UNICEF yacht in Punta del Este, Uruguay.


The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships??? ….. Or Maybe NOT!!!!!!



In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy, or Helen of Sparta if you prefer,  was said to have been the most beautiful women in the world. She was married to King Menelaus of Sparta but was abducted by Prince Paris of Troy after the goddess Aphrodite promised her to him in the “Judgement of Paris.” This led to a little 10 year long scrap known as the Trojan War – lots of boats, lots of fighting, a big wooden horse and it doesn’t end well for Troy. You know the story.

Her beauty inspired many artists and Christopher Marlowe’s lines from his tragedy Doctor Faustus are frequently attributed to Helen:

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships …….”

…..or was it THIS one?????

Clipper 2019-2020 Official mugshot as now seen on the Clipper website at!

…. Ok ……… probably NOT!!! 

but in something of a continuation of “Where’s Wally” from the previous blog, I do appear in the official video that follows, maybe even more than once, but this isn’t easy either. You’ll soon see why!!!!!

Crew Allocation Day (1) ….. The Bits We’ve All Really Been Waiting For.

Like a MASSIVE game of “Where’s Wally.” Clipper 2019-2020 Crew on the steps of the Guildhall, Portsmouth after crew allocation. I know where I was standing and I still can’t find myself!

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.

Punta del Este, Uruguay


The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

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 ZhuhaicoastlineNorth 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.

Qingdao, China

The second race of Leg 6 will start from Qingdao on 26 March and will race around the Leg6ClipperRoundingJapansouthern 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.

Seattle, USA

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.

Team UNICEF Crew Supporters

And finally, at least for the moment ………….. some help in the Where’s Wally? from the first photo:


……. to be continued …..