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Nicola ‘Nikki’ Henderson Visit Seattle Skipper

JULY 2018

At 25, Nicola ‘Nikki’ Henderson, from Guildford is the Clipper Race’s youngest ever Skipper, by over a year, taking on the title from Alex Thompson who proved youth was no barrier to success when he won the Clipper 1997-98 Race, aged 26.

Sailing with family and friends since the age of 13, Nikki has carved a successful sailing career, in both racing and instructing which would rival those twice her age. Having sailed over 38,000nm prior to becoming a Clipper Race Skipper, she has skippered three ARC races across the Atlantic (twice winning the Youngest Skipper Award), the Caribbean 600 – an inshore race circuit, two Cowes Weeks, co-skippered two Fastnet campaigns and sailed over 10,000 miles in offshore deliveries. 

She has lead Visit Seattle to five podiums in the Clipper 2017-18 Race so far, topping the podium more often then other other team. The team’s third race win of the circumnavigation in Race 12, from New York to Derry-Londonderry, has set up a thrilling duel for the overall Clipper Race Trophy against Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper, Wendy Tuck, 53 from Sydney, Australia, with the pair now vying to be the first female winner in the 22-year history of the Clipper Race.

On the prospect, Nikki added: “Its girl power! I try not to focus too much on the potential female one-two but I think that if it happened, it would be very special; special for Wendy, special for me and also for the industry, just to show people that we don’t have to be female sailors, we are just sailors, and male and female sailors are equal.”

One to watch, Nikki and the Visit Seattle team has played their race-point-doubling Joker Card in this the final race of the 2017-18 edition. Nikki said: “We always talked about leaving it to play right at the end of the circumnavigation as we felt that as a team, we would develop and grow enough and it would make most sense to play it at the end. It’s familiar water for me so hopefully that will pay off.”