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A group of non-professional sailors from the UK and other nationalities, competing in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, known as one of the planet’s toughest endurance challenges, have arrived into their first destination, Punta del Este, Uruguay, following a 6,400-nautical mile, 33-day battle through the Atlantic Ocean from Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

Sanya Serenity Coast took line honours as the first of the twelve teams across the finish line, at 13:46:46 local Uruguayan time (16:46:46 UTC) following the intense race.

Commenting as she arrived back to land for the first time after departing Liverpool on 20 August, round the world crew member Jan Riley, 57, an art gallery owner from Edinburgh, who had only sailed for two weeks before she signed up to do the Clipper Race, said: “I feel absolutely amazing it has been the most incredible experience, just had to take stock a couple of times to realise it is what we were doing and how amazing it was, fantastic. The arrival here to Punta del Este has been brilliant so it has been totally awesome.

James Wrightson, a 49-year-old Brand Director from Southampton, commented: “It was the most awesome experience imaginable, some really big highs and some really big lows but as a team we all pulled together. The whole of the Sanya Serenity Coast team was ‘Serenity’ on board, it was so calm and measured with Wendy keeping us all together.”

The teams, of approx. 20 crew living at 40 degrees in a 70ft yacht, experienced a variety of extreme living and sailing conditions; from the searing heat of crossing the Equator; to frustrating light winds in the Doldrums and exciting, champagne sailing in the Trade Winds; with the backdrop of incredible sunsets and endless starry skies, plus near experiences with ocean wildlife such as whales, dolphins and flying fishes.

Nine further teams are expected to join Sanya Serenity Coast into port in the next 24 hours. Still racing onboard the GREAT Britain team, which is currently looking like being third across the line is Olympic skier/commentator Graham Bell, who had minimal sailing experience before signing up to the race.

Writing from the boat about his race experience, Graham said: “Most people consider the Tour de France to be the toughest endurance sporting contest on the planet, fought out over three weeks by teams of professional athletes that have trained for years. Now imagine a race fought out over ten months by teams of amateurs, with the skippers training them on the job…I would argue that the range of skills needed for the Clipper Race is much greater.”

The Clipper Race is the biggest round the world ocean race – 40,000 nautical miles long, it will visit six continents and 13 different ports throughout its eleven-month duration. It is the only event of its kind available to anyone, willing to take on the challenge. Over 700 crew from more than 40 different nationalities will take part in the overall route.

Legendary British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968/69, founded the race to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience the chance to experience the thrill of ocean racing and for some the rare opportunity to complete a circumnavigation – something less people have achieved than have climbed Mount Everest.

Sir Robin said: “This first stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race is the longest ever individual race in our eleven editions. You never forget your first ocean crossing and this particular one has been a major achievement. 6,400 nautical miles through the Atlantic, from North to South, is a huge feat for any sailor, let alone our amateur crew. They have put themselves to the ultimate endurance test.”

The twelve teams will be based at Punta del Este Marina along with friends, family and supporters as they perform necessary maintenance on their yachts ahead of the next race stage, whilst also getting to enjoy some deserved respite in the coastal South American city.

The next stage, Race 2, to Cape Town, South Africa, will depart Punta del Este on Wednesday 4 October. 

After Cape Town, the race will continue to Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart, The Whitsundays, Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama and New York before a final crossing of the Atlantic Ocean towards Derry-Londonderry.

The teams will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock for Race Finish, almost a year after they departed, on Saturday 28 July 2018, where one of the twelve teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy. ​

You can track the progress of the rest of the fleet via the Clipper Race Viewer at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/raceviewer. To download official team photos and video, which will be updated throughout arrivals, please visit: