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First Belgian Sailor Chosen to Skipper in World’s Largest Ocean Race

16 MARCH 2017

Gaëtan Thomas, 29, from Brussels, has been selected as the first Belgian to Skipper a team in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’s 20 year history.

Gaëtan will be one of  twelve professional sailors who will each lead a crew of amateur sailors through Mother Nature’s toughest environments in the 40,000 nautical mile challenge, which sets sail from the UK this August, involves almost 700 crew, and will take almost a year to complete.

First Belgian Sailor Chosen to Skipper in World’s Largest Ocean Race

Gaëtan Thomas, 29, from Brussels, has been selected as the first Belgian to Skipper a team in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’s 20 year history.

Gaëtan will be one of  twelve professional sailors who will each lead a crew of amateur sailors through Mother Nature’s toughest environments in the 40,000 nautical mile challenge, which sets sail from the UK this August, involves almost 700 crew, and will take almost a year to complete.

On being the first Belgian to take on the role, Gaëtan said: “I am proud to be able to represent the colours of my country around the world.

“Sailing is in my eyes a superb school of life, which we can associate so many values with, such as endurance, respect and sharing. Only a few people have salt in their veins and I would like this passion to spread further so I look forward to sharing it with my crew!”

The Clipper Race, the only event of its kind which trains everyday people from all walks of life to take on one of the toughest endurance challenges of the natural world, was founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world almost 50 years ago.

With more than 50,000 nautical miles under his belt, Gaëtan, who has had a strong connection with the sea since experiences with his family as an infant, has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and much of Europe and the Caribbean and is most looking forward to racing across the North Pacific and Southern Ocean on the circumnavigation.

“Sailing around the world is a bucket list experience for any professional sailor and I am looking forward to leading the team and keep the crew and boat racing safely and effectively all the way, that is my goal. Although as a competitor of course I like to go fast!” Gaëtan adds.

Speaking about the selection process, Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing. Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.

“I wish Gaëtan and his team the best in their Clipper 2017-18 Race campaign.”

Clipper Race crew represent more than 40 different countries and can choose to compete in either the full circumnavigation or one or more of its eight individual legs. 40 per cent of crew have no previous sailing experience before they start their training, and the only professionals on board are the skippers who safely lead each team.

The next major event in the race preparations is Crew Allocation, at Portsmouth Guildhall, May 20, where all Skippers and crew will be assigned to their teams for the first time.

In addition to Gaëtan, there are currently four Belgian crew members who will compete in the race and followers can look forward to some exciting and exhilarating racing from the teams when the event gets underway this August.

During the eleven month-long ocean odyssey the fleet will visit six different continents in 14 ports before the team with the highest total points at the finish wins the Clipper Race Trophy.