The biggest ever edition of the 40,000nm Clipper Round the World Yacht Race got underway on the River Mersey, Liverpool in front of thousands of spectators.
After heading out of the River Mersey and into the Irish Sea, the 12-strong Clipper Race fleet is heading 6,400nm south, the equivalent distance of 10 Fastnet Races, through the Atlantic Ocean towards Punta del Este, Uruguay. This opening leg of the 11-month series will take approximately 35 days to complete and is the longest ever in the race’s 21-year history.
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.”
712 non-professional crew, the most ever in its 11 editions, 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.
Adding, Sir Robin said: “Over the next 11 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 on this planet get to say that.”
A cannon blast marked the start of the race in sunny conditions with strong tide. With winds against them, the first mark was a test of trimming, tacking and spotting the wind. As the excited crowd looked on, GREAT Britain was the first team across the Start Line with Sanya Serenity Coast and Garmin less than a half a boat length behind.
With a short inshore circuit getting the race underway, Dare to Lead led the way over the line on the course’s return loop with Garmin less than half a boat length behind.
Greenings and PSP Logistics struggled in the light airs and strong tide and HotelPlanner.com faltered on the start line but had one of the loudest cheers as it rounded the mark and has managed to keep in touch with the fleet as the teams now race into the Irish Sea.
Just ahead of slipping lines, Greg Schey, a 27-year-old doctor from Swansea, on board Qingdao 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.”
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 on 28 July 2018, where one of the 12 teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.