The biggest ever edition of the 40,000-nautical mile Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, involving everyday people, got underway on the River Mersey, Liverpool, today, in front of thousands of spectators.
After heading out of the River Mersey and into the Irish Sea, the twelve-strong Clipper Race fleet is heading 6,400 nM south, the equivalent distance of ten Fastnet Races, through the Atlantic Ocean towards Punta del Este, Uruguay. This opening leg of the eleven-month series will take approximately 35 days to complete and is the longest ever in the race’s 21-year history.
Legendary sailor and Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was there to see the fleet off, said: “The Clipper Race has got bigger and better with each edition and I can’t help feeling incredibly proud as I watch our crew head off on what will certainly be a life changing journey.
Sir Robin, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the planet almost 50 years ago, founded the race to allow anyone, regardless of experience, the chance to experience ocean racing. He added: “Over the next eleven months, our crew and Skippers will get to face everything Mother Nature can throw at them. Upon their return they will have crossed many of the world’s greatest oceans. Very few people get to say that.”
712 non-professional crew, the most ever in its eleven editions, including 360 Britons, from all walks of life and including many who had no previous sailing experience, will take on Mother Nature in this ultimate ocean challenge, representing 41 different nationalities.
Greg Schey, a 27 year old doctor from Swansea, said: “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. It’s one of the best adventures that you can possibly imagine. There is definitely part of me that wants to prove something to myself that I can do this.”
Twelve teams are competing in the race, including a GREAT Britain and a Liverpool 2018 team, plus a Unicef entry, representing the race’s official charity. For the first ever time, there are two Chinese teams, Sanya Serenity Coast and Qingdao.
The race is open to anyone, aged 18 and over with no upper age limit, who has a thirst for adventure and a desire to challenge themselves. The oldest competitor to date was 76. Each crew is led by a professional Skipper.
Following their stopover in Uruguay, the teams will then head to Cape Town, Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart, The Whitsundays, Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama and New York before a final crossing of the Atlantic Ocean towards Derry-Londonderry.
The Clipper Race will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock almost a year later for Race Finish on Saturday 28 July 2018, where one of the twelve teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.