International crew, including inspirational South Africans, departed Cape Town today as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race set sail for its highly anticipated 4,754nm Southern Ocean sleigh ride towards Fremantle, Australia.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is unique in that it is the only event on the planet which trains non-professional sailors to become ocean racers. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up. 40,000 nautical miles in length, the circumnavigation is divided into eight legs.
Incredibly one participant, David Marige Moroko, 26, also known as Sello, from Limpopo, had never seen the sea before he started his Clipper Race training a couple of months ago in the UK.
Joining the Dare To Lead team for this leg, Sello said: “It’s already been an incredible journey. From someone who had no sailing experience at all until just recently, to this point today when I am about to sail to Australia, it has been non-stop learning. My team seem great and I’m excited about all the experiences we are going to have together and looking forward to the effect that it will all have on me, as a sailor and as a person too.”
The race start followed a fantastic stopover in the stunningly scenic city that has hosted the global sailing event nine times. Crowds of supporters lined the marina at Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront to see the teams off, and following a colourful Parade of Sail in balmy conditions, the race officially got underway at 1200 UTC (1400 local time) with light and variable winds.
After a fantastic stopover in his hometown, Skipper of the Dare To Lead team, Dale Smyth, from Fish Hoek, whose team is currently leading the overall Clipper Race standings, was ready to start racing again. Ahead of bidding an emotional farewell to his wife and three young children, Dale said: “I feel good, slightly apprehensive because it would be pretty strange if you weren’t.
“It will be good to get going again and keep moving! It looks to be a tricky start, it will be quite light and variable crossing The Agulhas Bank, nothing like the big Southern Ocean Westerlies that we are due to expect! Probably quite a tactical, soft start to Race 3. I can’t tell you my tactics, though!”
This Southern Ocean stage of the Clipper Race is seen as the first major test of nerves and courage as the teams head into the notorious Roaring Forties, an area laying between 40 and 50 degrees latitude which is respected by sailors as one of the best places to fully appreciate Mother Nature in her most raw and powerful glory.
Cedric Jakobsen, 53, an IT Executive from Cape Town, first heard about the Clipper Race when he was out racing in Table Bay and saw the boats come in. Two years later and he is about to head into the Southern Ocean on board the Qingdao team.
Just ahead of departure, he said: “The Southern Ocean has been a bucket list item for me for a long time. To sail across one of the big oceans of the world is pretty exciting.
“I’m looking forward to some big seas, mighty winds and fast sailing. A lot of people say it’s a life-changing experience so that’s really what I’m anticipating, you step off as a different person on the other side!”
The Clipper Race is the brainchild of legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1969. Not only is it a unique global challenge, it is also a significant publicity, tourism and business platform for its race partners.
Whilst the race has stopped in Cape Town nine times, organisers are now investigating moving its South African stopover to either Durban or Port Elizabeth as they could benefit greatly from the significant publicity, tourism and investment boost that the event delivers.
The twelve Clipper Race teams are expected to arrive into Fremantle, Western Australia, between 21- 25 November.
After completing the second stopover of the Clipper 2017-18 Race in Cape Town, the teams are heading to Fremantle before continuing on to Sydney, Hobart, The Whitsundays, Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama and New York before a final crossing of the Atlantic Ocean towards Derry-Londonderry.
After crossing six oceans and visiting thirteen stopover ports on six continents, the fleet will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock almost a year later for Race Finish on Saturday 28 July 2018 where this epic adventure will conclude.
OVERALL CLIPPER 2017-18 RACE STANDINGS AFTER FIRST TWO RACES
1 DARE TO LEAD 31
2 GREENINGS 25
3 GREAT BRITAIN 24
4 QINGDAO 21
5 SANYA SERENITY COAST 19
6 GARMIN 16
7 VISIT SEATTLE 14
8 LIVERPOOL 2018 14
9 PSP LOGISTICS 11
10 HOTELPLANNER.COM 10
11 NASDAQ 6
12 UNICEF 5