Professional sailor Ian Wiggin, 30, from Plymouth, is celebrating after being appointed as one of eleven professionals who will lead a team in the next edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Commenting on his appointment, Ian said: “I’ve been purposefully working towards my goal of being a Clipper Race Skipper for the last ten years. I’ve avidly followed previous editions and I’m now unbelievably proud that it’s my turn to live it for real, getting to guide, motivate, and lead a competitive team in such an awesome challenge.”
The biennially held Clipper Race, which takes almost a year to complete, is the only event of its kind which trains amateur sailors to race around the planet. 40 per cent of crew members have no previous sailing experience before signing up and starting their intensive training, making it a unique test of teamwork, fortitude, and leadership. Only the Skipper and Mate on board each team are professionals.
Born and raised in Plymouth, Ian first started sailing locally in evenings and weekends at the age of 15. He gained a position as an ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisation) cadet, and also built up his sailing experience whilst working with Gordonstoun School in Scotland.
After completing a degree in Outdoor Adventure and Leadership Management, chosen due to his passion for instruction and developing students, Ian has dedicated his career ever since to sailing instruction and racing. Over the past six years he has raced and lead trips all over the world, including around Europe, the South Pacific, Morocco, the Caribbean, and Australia. He recently made his seventh Atlantic crossing and has also crossed the Pacific Ocean.
Ian adds: “Being an outdoor instructor has allowed me to share my love of nature and my enthusiasm for adventure. I’m a passionate racer but I know that even the greatest sailor cannot win the Clipper Race on their own. My aim will be to facilitate an inclusive and positive atmosphere on board and believe training and delegation, with an emphasis on safety and good seamanship at all times, will be key to a successful campaign.”
The Clipper Race will be exciting and exhilarating, but also frustrating and uncomfortable at times. As a Race Skipper, Ian will need to display an extraordinary amount of focus and determination as he leads his novice crew through some of the planet’s harshest and most remote conditions. In past editions, these have included phenomenal sea states, hurricane force winds, and frigid cold, all while being away from land and other humans for up to a month at a time.
The Clipper Race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. This momentous event has a deep passion for challenge and life changing adventure at its core. Since the first Clipper Race in 1996, almost 5,000 novice sailors have been turned into competent ocean racers.
Sir Robin said: “The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing. Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.
“I wish Ian and his team the best in their Clipper 2019-20 Race campaign.”
Ian is now working full-time at the Clipper Race HQ in Hampshire, where he and the other Skippers are leading the intensive crew training courses. The next major event in the race preparations is Crew Allocation, at the Portsmouth Guildhall, on 11 May, where Skippers and crew will be assigned to their teams for the first time.
Starting from the UK later this Summer, the route will see the teams race from the UK, across the Atlantic to South America; the South Atlantic to South Africa; across the Southern Ocean’s Roaring Forties to Western Australia; around to East Australia, back into the Northern Hemisphere to China where teams will race to Qingdao, via Sanya and Zhuhai; across the mighty North Pacific to West Coast USA; to West Coast USA via the famous Panama Canal; and then it’s a final Atlantic crossing; before arriving back to the UK as fully fledged ocean racers.