Race 12 Le Mans Start
Clipper Race Fleet Dodges Whale Obstacle Course off Long Island

The Clipper Race fleet has officially begun the penultimate race of the 40,000 nautical mile, eleven month circumnavigation – a two week race across the North Atlantic to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Le Mans style start for Race 12 began at 1900 UTC in perfect champagne sailing conditions under bright blue skies off the coast of Long Island. Sanya Serenity Coast was quick off the mark, followed closely by Nasdaq, though it quickly became apparent that it wouldn’t be a straight forward start.

GREAT Britain Skipper Dave Hartshorn explains: “10 minutes after the Le Mans start, the point when you are free to choose your own course and point of sail, we could see coming towards a series of blow spouts of whales breaking water to breathe. Then Sanya Serenity Coast, which had got off to a flying start, had to rapidly bear away to avoid hitting a whale. PSP Logistics just to our front then had to do likewise.

“As the fleet charged forward, it was if there were large puffs of smoke from small explosions breaking out across the water between the boats.”

​The 3,000 nautical mile Race 12: The LegenDerry Race is expected to take up to 19 days, with the Clipper Race fleet estimated to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 10-14 July – just in time for the Foyle Maritime Festival. The award-winning festival will run from Saturday 14 July until the fleet departs for Liverpool on Sunday 22 July.