Charlie Stannard, 19 from London and Heather Thomas, 18, from West Yorkshire are celebrating after winning a life changing opportunity to race across the Pacific Ocean in Leg 6 of the famous Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race.
Having been announced as finalists for the competition, run by the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, last December, both had been in Hampshire taking part in a week long race training trial on the Solent, and were expecting to return to shore today to find out who had been selected for the coveted race experience.
However both returned to shore to receive the surprise news from their skipper that both had been awarded the race place. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston explained: “The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation ensures young people are given their best opportunity to achieve their potential through sailing so I am very pleased to support their hard work and make the decision to award both Charlie and Heather with a place on Leg 6 of the Clipper 2016-16 Race.
“They both equally impressed our team during their Level 1 training, in some particularly tough wind conditions, and we believe they both highly deserve the opportunity to race across the Pacific Ocean – a bucket list experience for any sailor. I look forward to following their adventures.”
Each Leg 6 prize is worth more than £10,000. Literally the chance of a lifetime, the pair will receive full Clipper Race training and protective Henri Lloyd foul weather kit, flights to Qingdao, China and home from West Coast USA, as well as the full crew member experience on the longest, and arguably most challenging leg of the famous race.
The Pacific Ocean is the sixth of eight legs which make up the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The race is 5,500 miles long and will take approximately one month to complete. Starting in Qingdao, China in March 2016, and ending in the West Coast of the USA, the Pacific is the world’s largest ocean. Crew members will be trained to encounter Mother Nature’s toughest, yet most exhilarating conditions, including towering waves, howling winds, and high speed surfs.
Charlie and Heather will complete the rest of their race training over the coming months, and will be assigned to their team skipper and crew mates at the upcoming Clipper Race Crew Allocation event on April 25 at Portsmouth Guildhall.
The Clipper 2015-16 Race starts on August 30 and will be the tenth edition of the world’s longest ocean race, also known as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet. The only event of its kind in the world for amateur sailors, twelve team’s race against each other across a 40,000 nautical mile long race course split into eight individual legs. It takes almost a year to complete.