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Clipper 2017-18 Race Skipper Nikki Henderson has been awarded the prestigious Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) Yachtsman of the Year Award after making history when, at 24, she became the youngest ever skipper to compete in the biggest round the world yacht race.

The award, which was presented jointly to the 25-year-old, and Tracy Edwards MBE for her work with Maiden, during a ceremony in London.

Cliff Webb, YJA Charman, said: "The YJA is delighted to recognise Nikki's achievement in becoming the youngest skipper ever in the Clipper Race, and to have guided her crew to a second-placed finish overall, missing outright victory by the narrowest of margins, is really remarkable.

"She showed extraordinary skill, seamanship, and race tactics through eleven tough months of competition, where she shouldered the responsibility of keeping her crew safe, while teaching people more than twice her age. It was an outstanding performance, showing tremendous leadership and team building qualities."

The accolade also marked Nikki’s performance achievements during the 2017-18 edition where she led her Visit Seattle team to second place, just four points behind Australian Wendy Tuck’s Sanya Serenity Coast team, securing an all-female one-two on the podium.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Nikki said: "It is all well and good being ambitious and brave as a young person, but it also takes people to have faith in you and give you the breaks. To everyone in my life who has given me those opportunities; thank you, and I hope I have done you proud!"

The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains everyday people to become ocean racers – with 40 per cent of crew having never sailed before. Nikki skippered her Visit Seattle team 40,000 nautical miles around the world battling phenomenal sea states with 14 metre high waves, hurricane force winds, boat speeds up to 35 knots (equivalent to 40 mph), extreme heat and freezing conditions. Anyone over the age of 18 can participate as a crew member in the Clipper Race and the oldest crew member of Nikki’s Visit Seattle team was 71 years old – almost three times her age.

The YJA award ceremony also celebrated the achievements of Clipper Race Co-Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who will reach two significant milestones over the next month; his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his Sunday Times Golden Globe Race achievement. Speaking about Nikki during the last edition of the race, he said: “One of her strengths is her leadership. She built a happy and cohesive team and made these 50 people, men and women of all ages and from different nations from around the world, buy into her team ethos “sailing with style’. It takes a special kind of person to be a Clipper Race Skipper – part teacher, counsellor and sports coach and so to lead her team to second place (and it was a nail-biting finish) is an amazing achievement.”

Over the 11 months of the race, Nikki led her team to three outright race victories and two second-place finishes in 13 races. She was able to guide her novice crew safety around the world with little damage to the yacht despite surviving the roughest weather of the fleet through mountainous seas in the North Pacific crossing.

Previous YJA Yachtsman of the Year award winners includes Clipper Race crew member Gavin Reid, a profoundly deaf sailor who was instrumental in the rescue of a non-Clipper Race crew off the coast of Australia during the 2015-16 edition and Co-Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who has won it four times.

Published in Clipper Race

The Clipper Race remembers British sailor Simon Speirs, who died one year ago today during Leg 3’s Southern Ocean crossing.

The GREAT Britain crew member was washed overboard while assisting with a headsail change during rough seas and high winds.

Despite being recovered by his fellow crew amid the difficult conditions, he never regained consciousness, and he was given a sea burial on 19 November 2017.

The Clipper Race tweeted this morning: “Our thoughts are with his loved ones and fellow crew. You are gone but not forgotten Simon, rest in peace.”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - HotelPlanner.com made its debut in the Clipper 2017-18 Race and it didn’t take long to see that skipper Conall Morrison and his team of 57 crew, which included 15 different nationalities and people aged between 22 and 76, were going to fully embrace the company’s slogan of ‘bringing people together’.

From naming bunks after famous hotels to ‘Safety Sundays’, yoga on deck, and their catchy ‘Irish Rover’ team song, the HotelPlanner.com team quickly made its mark as one of the friendliest teams on the race.

However, the team was tested during Race 3, when it was forced to divert to Port Elizabeth for a medevac just days after leaving Cape Town. The unscheduled stopover did have a silver lining, though: six members of the Greenings team joined in Port Elizabeth and were warmly embraced by all on board.

“LiverpoolLiverpool celebrates the return of HotelPlanner.com after 11 months around the world | Photo: Clipper Ventures

HotelPlanner.com became the toast of the town in Hobart, Tasmania after winning the Clipper 70 Class of the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which doubled as Race 5. The team sealed the RSHYR win after being granted a 120-minute redress for going to the assistance of a fellow competitor shortly after race start on Boxing Day.

Adrian Hemmes, a round-the-world crew member on HotelPlanner.com, was the rescue swimmer and said at the time: “The training kicked in and everything went fast. Halyards were attached to myself and the helicopter strap and I was ready to go into the water.

“I swung myself over the railing and got hold of that orange line. Moments later, I was pulling our new, temporary crew member in, attached him to the helicopter strap and we both were hoisted out of the water. We were so prepared that we even had a blanket, some tea, and a warm sleeping bag ready for him.

“He was in a good mood and got the full HotelPlanner.com treatment – tea and cake included. Sadly, we couldn't keep our new crew member, even though he was already fitted with an orange fleece. Eventually he was put in a rubber dinghy and trailed behind, to be picked up by his former crew.”

The act didn’t go unnoticed. Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, John Markos, made special mention of HotelPlanner.com during the RSHYR prize-giving, commending the team for retrieving the man out of the water in 15 minutes.

The skipper was given a standing ovation, too, when he was given the Rani Trophy for Most Meritorious Performance, which was judged by the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Committee, and awarded by Governor of Tasmania Kate Warner.

The team was also a big hit in Qingdao after it emerged crew member Tom Parker, who completed Legs 5 and 8, had taught the team to number off in Mandarin and translated a speech from Morrison during the welcome ceremony at the Wanda Yacht Club.

The race across the North Pacific tested the entire fleet but saw HotelPlanner.com achieve one its best results.

Despite spending 28 days racing some 5,600 nautical miles across the world’s largest and most inhospitable ocean, there was just four minutes between the fourth-placed HotelPlanner.com and PSP Logistics in fifth.

Race 9 was also a chance for more fun, as Morrison explained in his Day 7 skipper blog: “I must tell you about the VHF quiz organised by our old romantic, super-bosun Nic Schellenberg. He took it upon himself to make an all-fleet call on the radio to run a gameshow over the VHF and had contestants lined up from HotelPlanner.com, Nasdaq, PSP Logistics and Visit Seattle.

“During the broadcast we were all huddled around the nav station with the on-watch all huddled around the helm VHF and hand-held set to listen to our willing bachelor Dr G’s Dulcet tones as he asked a series of questions to the four lovely ladies from each boat.”

One of the real highlights for HotelPlanner.com was the Derry-Londonderry stopover. With Morrison and round-the-world crew member Roseann McGlinchey returning home, the team was always going to make a splash, but the friendly Northern Irish city embraced and adopted the entire team. Family, friends and well-wishers cheered them in from the mouth of the River Foyle all the way into the city.

Of the welcome, round-the-world crew member Mary Frawley, from Tipperary, said: “I was really excited to arrive but this morning during our early morning watch when we saw the first glimpse of Ireland it was quite emotional.”

When the adventure finally came to an end after 11 months and 40,000 nautical miles, the bonds between the team were clear to see, with round-the-world crew member Graham Hill summing it up in his last crew blog: “I do feel this has been an amazing adventure. I could not have achieved it by myself and have been blessed to have been on a boat that has had an amazing crew.

“We always pulled together when the chips were down, to achieve the goal of getting safety from destination to destination around the world.

“We have had a lot of laughs on the way and have had to support each other through some very challenging times. We have been, to all intents and purposes, an extended family.”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Derry-Londonderry-born Clipper Race skipper Conall Morrison and round-the-world crew member Roseann McGlinchey have arrived in Liverpool, completing their epic 11-month, 40,000-nautical-mile circumnavigation of the globe.

A week after starting the 13th and final race, the Clipper Race fleet arrived in Liverpool, thrilling the thousands of people that lined the River Mersey with a spectacular sprint finish on Saturday 28 July.

Fireworks and confetti cannons turned the grey sky into a riot of colour when Morrison and McGlinchey guided their HotelPlanner.com boat into the Royal Albert Dock to bring their adventure to an end.

“It feels just like yesterday we were here in Liverpool. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet how far we have come and what we have achieved,” said Morrison.

“It’s been an adventure and one that I will remember and cherish always.”

“HotelPlanner.comHotelPlanner.com supporters at the race finish in Liverpool

McGlinchey added: “We’ve gone round the world! Who does this stuff?

“The crowd waving us in was just amazing. The support right the way round has been incredible but it was something special coming back to where it all started.

“Time has flown. With each leg this team has felt more and more like family. The bond we have is incredible. I’ve definitely changed, I think for the better.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Sanya Serenity Coast claimed the overall victory in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, making skipper Wendy Tuck the first woman in history to win a round-the-world yacht race.

Twenty-five-year-old British sailor Nikki Henderson, the youngest skipper in the 22-year history of the Clipper Race, placed second overall with her team Visit Seattle to complete a one-two female finish.

The sprint finish into Liverpool wrapped up a race which began in Liverpool in August of last year. After crossing six oceans with 13 stopovers on five different continents, and seeing mother nature at her most raw — including hurricane-force winds and 14-metre waves in the North Pacific — the 11 teams are now home, full of stories to last a lifetime.

Over the past 22 years, more than 5,000 people have become ocean racers through the Clipper Race, though still more people have climbed Mount Everest than have gone around the world under sail.

Perhaps you could help beat that number and be a part of the next edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race, which due to begin next summer.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - History has been made as Australian sailor Wendy Tuck becomes the first woman to ever win a round-the-world yacht race after clinching the overall victory in the 2017-18 edition of the Clipper Race yesterday (Friday 27 July).

And in an additional win for women’s sport, second place went to 25-year-old British sailor Nikki Henderson, skipper of Visit Seattle.

Wendy and her Sanya Serenity Coast team went into the 13th and final stage of the Clipper Race on top of the overall standings, and had done enough to put the result out of reach for the other 10 teams ahead of the sprint finish up the Mersey to Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool this morning, which was win by Garmin, with PSP Logistics and home team Liverpool 2018 claiming the remaining points.

Wendy, 53, from Sydney, said of yesterday’s result: “I can’t believe it. It hasn’t really sunk in really but I am just so happy. It is so, so special.

“I don’t think it’s about being a woman. It’s just do what I do. But I am very proud and even prouder of my team. They are the ones that did all the work and considering many had never sailed before, what they have accomplished is incredible.”

It was a battle to see who would seal the win – Wendy or Nikki, the youngest ever Clipper Race skipper. Despite Visit Seattle playing its Joker Card (a device which doubles the race points earned), Nikki fell just short of the overall win, but her four podiums over the last year meant she and her team will take second place overall despite the results of today’s sprint.

“Congratulations to Wendy and her team – you were just too quick for us!” Nikki said.

“We didn’t get the win but I am so proud of how my team dug deep and kept fighting right until the end. No matter how hard it got, they turned up on deck ready to work and deserve every bit of this success in coming second.

“It will take a bit for it all to sink in. We still have once last sprint to go on Saturday and we will be sailing with style right until the very end.”

Delighted with the female one-two finish, Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, said: “There’s never been a race, a round the world race, where you’ve had the two leading skippers both be women. This is a first. And when you look at what they are racing against, the experience of the other Clipper Race skippers, you realise that this is really very special.

“The impact of the success of both Wendy and Nikki cannot be underestimated. If this gets even one more girl start sailing and dreaming big, then I’ll consider everything we have done over the last eleven months a huge success.”

The other Chinese Clipper Race entry, Qingdao, won Race 13, the final stage of the Clipper Race from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool, crossing the line 28 minutes ahead of second-placed Liverpool 2018, whilst Garmin was third.

Qingdao skipper Chris Kobusch said: “It has been a fantastic race and I am extremely happy and proud of the effort my team has put in.

“To be able to not only secure the Race 13 victory but also guarantee our Race Team Partner Qingdao its first ever overall podium is extremely satisfying. The entire team has been working towards this goal for the past year and it is amazing to realise that we have done it.”

This was the fourth podium of the 2017-18 series for Qingdao and the second win after the team previously claimed victory in Race 9 across the mighty North Pacific from Qingdao to Seattle.

Qingdao has also been the champion of the Scoring Gate, with the team collecting a fleet-high 19 bonus points.

The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains non-professionals to be ocean faring sailors. Established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up and undergoing the compulsory four weeks of training.

In total, 712 people representing 41 different nationalities and from all walks of life have taken part in the 40,000-nautical-mile Clipper 2017-18 Race, the event’s 11 edition — including a number of Irish sailor’s on board Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Qingdao claimed victory in Race 13 of the 2017-18 Clipper Race when they crossed the line at Liverpool this morning (Friday 27 July) at 10:04:04 UTC (11.04am local time).

The Chinese team’s second win of the current circumnavigation sees 12 points added to their overall total.

Close behind was home team Liverpool 2018 at 10:32 UTC — a big improvement on their last-place finish in Derry-Londonderry — while Garmin completed the podium just minutes later at 10:38 UTC.

Fourth place was taken by Unicef, when skipper Bob Beggs and crew crossed the line an hour behind the leading trio at 11:41 UTC.

At time of writing, Visit Seattle was the next boat poised to finish with just half a nautical mile left to cover.

However, with the race order unchanged for days, Nikki Henderson and team likely haven’t done enough to take the Clipper Race trophy from Sanya Serenity Coast.

Sanya, meanwhile, is in a battle for sixth with PSP Logistics less than five miles from the finish, while Dare to Lead has 15 miles to go — and Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com maintains a slim lead over GREAT Britain in ninth as they round Anglesey for the home stretch.

Nasdaq will be the last boat to arrive before the trilling sprint finish up the River Mersey to the Royal Albert Dock. Crucial last-minute points are available to the first three teams over the line tomorrow, Saturday 28 July.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The 13th and final stage of the 2017-18 Clipper Race remains anyone’s, with the fleet still tightly packed as the upwind beat down the western Irish coast continues.

And with now less than 36 hours left until the teams reach Liverpool, the battle for the overall win and illustrious Clipper Race Trophy between Visit Seattle and Sanya Serenity Coast is starting to heat up, with the two boats still virtually neck-and-neck on Day 3 of Race 13 (Wednesday 25 July).

After dropping in the standings yesterday, Visit Seattle worked hard overnight to move back in touch with the main chasing pack. Skipper Nikki Henderson explained this morning: “Life feels brighter today. We have been thinking and trimming and driving this boat like we have never done before and bit by bit yesterday we managed to make up some ground back to the fleet.

“We are now joined by Sanya Serenity Coast, Dare To Lead, and PSP Logistics in the middle pack - so it’s a fight to stay in fifth at the moment.”

While the four leading teams – Liverpool 2018, Qingdao, Unicef and Garmin – are all still in AIS range, Henderson was concerned time is running out to make a move.

“The four up ahead will be hard to catch once we turn the corner of Virtual Mark Fastnet. They will crack off their sails and zoom along at probably 10-12 knots whilst the rest of us slog it out at 7-8 in the wrong direction. So still thinking, trimming, and driving to see if we can make it there first! In the words of Dory: ‘Just keep sailing, just keep sailing, sailing, sailing.’”

Sanya Serenity Coast is also having to put in the hard yards to keep the competition in check. Skipper Wendy Tuck commented: “Again it’s been an up and down day and night. Sometimes we do OK, then sometimes we don’t do so OK. But all is well on the mighty Sanya Serenity Coast.

“Overnight the breeze picked up a little more so it’s back to living on the north edge, good thing the green monster has left the boat.”

Despite veering away from the main pack yesterday after being hit by a wind-shift whilst tacking, Liverpool 2018 is right back in the thick of things leading the pack. But with just 17 nautical miles between the first four boats, skipper Lance Shepherd isn’t getting carried away.

“It is so tight I think the positions will be contently changing right up until the finish line,” he said.

The currently third-placed Unicef is eyeing up a podium position, with skipper Bob Beggs reporting: “We are now about a third of our way between Virtual Mark Siraut and Virtual Mark Fastnet and we are engaged in a great battle out here heading for Liverpool in this, our final race. The fleet is very tight and really any boat may have a chance of winning.

“The weather has been kind in this latter part of the race and after tonight's blow passes through, the weather forecast is promising some great light wind spinnaker action via St Georges Channel and the Irish Sea.”

As the finish line draws closer, realisation is dawning about just what the teams have accomplished over the last eleven months. Dare To Lead skipper Dale Smyth said: “Sailing against the 10 other skippers has been such a pleasure and challenge. Each skipper individually has become a close colleague and friend as we have travelled around the world racing each other.

“Individually, each of us has our own style and personality and although we sail our hearts out against each other, we have really had each other to rely on for the last year. It is comforting to know that any one of the eleven would stop racing instantly to come to your assistance if need be.

“Skippering in a Clipper Race is a lonely role in some respects, carrying the responsibility of these 70-foot machines full of people and their hopes and dreams, in a hugely hostile environment. We have truly had a group of Skippers that have supported and been there for each other and I would like to express my deepest thanks to all of you individually for your friendship, support, and competition this year.”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Since leaving Liverpool almost a year ago, the 11 teams in the 2017-18 Clipper Race have battled each other in 12 races, experiencing everything from frustrating wind holes to “phenomenal” sea states, boat speeds up to 35 knots, extreme heat and freezing conditions.

But their epic endurance challenge is almost over as the 13th and final stage in this unique global adventure departed today (Sunday 22 July) from Derry-Londonderry, destination Liverpool, where the race will end next Saturday 28 July.

In an exciting outcome for women’s sport, skippers Nikki Henderson and Wendy Tuck are competing to be the first ever female winner in the event’s 22 years, with the strong likelihood that both will end up topping the overall standings.

This would be a ground-breaking result for sailing, as a female skipper has never before won a round-the-world yacht race, and also for sport in general where it is rare to have women and men compete in the same competition.

Race 13 got off to a clean start at 5pm off Greencastle on the Donegal side of Lough Foyle. Dare To Lead was the first over the start line in front of hundreds of spectators who gathered along on the coastline, closely followed by Unicef, Sanya Serenity Coast and Visit Seattle.

Teams will race anti-clockwise around Ireland to Liverpool over the next five days. The final race will conclude with a thrilling sprint finish up the River Mersey on Saturday towards the Royal Albert Dock, where crews will be given a heroes’ welcome by family, friends and over 100,000 expected spectators.

Sanya Serenity Coast, skippered by Australian Wendy Tuck, went into the final race at the top of the leaderboard with 137 points. Teams Visit Seattle and Qingdao, skippered by Brit Nikki Henderson and German Chris Kobusch, are joint second with 123 points each. Shrewd tactician Henderson, also the youngest ever skipper in the Clipper Race at 24, has chosen to play her Joker Card on the very last race which means her points will be doubled.

Ahead of departing for the race start, Sanya skipper Tuck said: “It’s time for us to pull out everything we have, last night one of my crew reminded me that when I first met the team I said I was aiming for a top four finish. We can certainly aim higher now.

“I have had an awesome year and I feel privileged to have been the leader of this amazing crew. To my biggest competitor in this final race I say, Nikki you are amazing, at 24 I couldn’t even be in charge of myself, let alone up to 50 plus crew who you have got round the world fast and safely. However we finish up, women’s sailing will be the winner.”

Once teams cross the finish line in Liverpool Bay, it won’t quite be over because Race 13 will then conclude with a Le Mans start and a 20-mile sprint up the River Mersey to the Royal Albert Dock, in which the top three teams will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points respectively.

Giving his opinion on the contest for the overall trophy, Clipper Race chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “There has never been a round the world sailing race where the leading skippers are women. The competition is tough with experienced sailors and a previous winner too.

“To have men and women competing together in sport on a level playing field is very special and I’m really looking forward to what this last race brings. I’m incredibly proud of Nikki and Wendy and whatever their final standings are, I couldn’t imagine better role models for women's sport.”

Mathematically, Qingdao can still win the overall race title, but with a maximum 15 points on offer across the race and sprint finish, and a minimum two points awarded to the last-placed team, its overall victory would rely on Sanya Serenity Coast being disqualified or retiring from this final stage.

Among the rest of the fleet, there is still plenty of competition for final positions. PSP Logistics and Garmin are both tied in fourth and fifth place respectively, 11 points behind Qingdao, with both teams keeping their eye on making the podium. Dare To Lead, in sixth, is just two points ahead of Unicef, and at the bottom of the fleet, pride and positions are all to race for.

Conall Morrison’s HotelPlanner.com in 10th will be looking to advance on Liverpool 2018, just two points above, though will also be keeping an eye on Nasdaq six points below.

“HotelPlanner.comHotelPlanner.com sets off from Foyle Port Marina with the rest of the Clipper Race fleet

Hundreds lined Derry’s Quay this afternoon to bid farewell to the HotelPlanner.com and the other Clipper Race teams as they slipped lines for the final stage of their global adventure.

It was an emotional send off after 10 days of celebrations as the city played host to the crew of the 11 visiting yachts during their stopover in the city.

Up to 220,000 people are estimated to have enjoyed the packed programme of nautical themed activities during the Foyle Maritime Festival which took over the city from 14-22 July.

The festival finale event on Friday night (20 July) included a spectacular Voyages and Parade of Light Showcase: an atmospheric performance featuring aerial performers, an illuminated flotilla of boats on the Foyle, fireworks and animation, retelling the epic voyage of Mannanan Mac Lir.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, led the city in waving off the fleet as it made its way back up the Foyle to the official race start at Greencastle.

“It was a sad moment as we waved farewell to the Clipper Race fleet today after an eventful week of celebration. We have welcomed visitors from all over the world over the past week and it has been fantastic to see Derry and the wider North West region profiled in such a positive way on a global platform,” said Mayor Boyle.

“Once again we’ve demonstrated our ability to stage an international event generating substantial revenue for the local economy, and enhancing the region’s profile as an exciting and unique visitor destination.

“All of the Clipper Race crew have really enjoyed their stay here, they have been overwhelmed with the warm welcome and the hospitality shown to them by local businesses and the people here.

“The Foyle Maritime Festival really showcases our commitment to maximising the opportunity to build on the successes of the past few years in hosting large scale events and to explore our options in terms of utilising our many wonderful resources such as the River Foyle as part of a long-term tourism strategy for the future.”

This is the fourth time the Clipper Race has included Derry-Londonderry as a stopover city, and the celebrations around the visit have now become an established highlight of the city’s events programme, with plans currently being developed to host the Foyle Maritime Festival biennially.

Aeidin McCarter, head of culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that through the Foyle Maritime Festival we have once again delivered a first-class international events programme showcasing our beautiful city and reaching new audiences.

“The Foyle Maritime Festival has certainly captured the imagination of local people and we’ve had amazing support from our local businesses and partners in staging the Festival, which has attracted record visitor numbers this year.

“Looking ahead now we will be exploring ways to build on the momentum created by the Maritime Festival in our future events, and ways to celebrate and showcase our beautiful city and district and our many exceptional visitor experiences.”

Visit Derry has said that while the final numbers were still being collated, hotel occupancy over the ten days had averaged around 80%. Commenting on the tens of thousands of visitors who flocked to the city for the Foyle Maritime Festival and Foyle Cup, she said: “Both events have been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the city as an international tourist destination.

“We have also had a group of international travel journalists visiting the city and region for the festival; they have been greatly impressed with our unique tourism offer and we welcome the opportunity for them to share what they have experienced here at first hand with their many readers in the USA, Canada, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland as we now prepare for the city and district’s next large-scale event with another week-long festival at Halloween.”

Roseann McGlinchey, Donegal native and HotelPlanner.com crew member, added: “The stopover has been incredible. To sail into my home city and see my family for the first time in a year is something I will always remember. We almost felt like celebrities during our time in Derry, everyone made us feel so special and welcome. The Walled City Brewery adopted the HotelPlanner.com team and even named a cocktail and a beer after me! How incredible is that? One more race to go and I will be home for good.”

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The race points on the overall Clipper Race leaderboard have been updated for the final time before the final stage to Liverpool, and the fight for the podium is going to be fierce.

Despite finishing eighth in Race 12 to Derry-Londonderry, Sanya Serenity Coast remains on top of the overall standings on 137 points. But Visit Seattle and Qingdao are just 14 points behind, level on 123 points.

PSP Logistics and Garmin are also tied on 112 points, meaning any of the top five teams are in with a chance of standing on the final podium at Royal Albert Dock on Saturday 28 July.

“This whole Clipper Race has been highly competitive right from the off,” said race director Mark Light. “We have had some tremendous finishes and one that sticks in my mind is a photo finish between Nasdaq and GREAT Britain racing into Sydney.

“No single team is running away with it and this only adds to the excitement for anyone watching. You only have to look at the Race Viewer to see the fleet racing side by side for days on end. It really is match racing but across oceans and a credit to the skill across the fleet.”

Adding to the excitement for the 13th and final race is that Visit Seattle is yet to play its Joker Card. If skipper Nikki Henderson and her team decide to play the Joker, they will be in the box seat to leapfrog Sanya Serenity Coast and take out the overall win.

The Joker Card will double any race points earned on the way to Liverpool, but as usual, it won’t apply to the bonus points on offer in the sprint.

The sprint will be the final feature of Race 13, with the race up the Mersey to potentially decide the top three.

“The tensions are mounting for lots of teams as we enter the final Race with the overall podium positions still to be decided,” Light added.

“Race 13 is made up of two parts – the race from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool Bay for full race finishing points, and then a Le Mans start leading to the sprint finish all the way up into the finish line off Albert Dock. The sprint finish offers bonus points for the first three teams across the line – three points for first, two for second and one point for third.

“Seeing the Clipper fleet racing their way up the River Mersey in front of thousands of onlookers will be spectacular and knowing that the bonus points on offer could actually decide the overall Clipper Race winners adds an extra dimension that will have supporters, skippers and crews all on the edge of their seats … It is too close to call and we will all have to wait and see how this final race unfolds.”

Race 13 from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool will begin this Sunday 22 July.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The full Clipper Race fleet has arrived in Derry-Londonderry, with the crews now ready to enjoy an action-packed fortnight and the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival.

After what has been a thrilling race full of tactical, close racing, incredible whale and dolphin sightings, and a thrilling finish and win by the youngest Clipper Race skipper, Nikki Henderson of Visit Seattle, the final two boats arrived into the Foyle Port Marina.

The third and final day of arrivals started with GREAT Britain after the team crossed the finish line in 10th place at 4.06am yesterday morning (Thursday 12 July).

Having sailed some 3,000 nautical miles from New York across the North Atlantic, the round-the-world crew were very happy to arrive in Northern Ireland and be back in the UK the first time since leaving Liverpool in August last year.

One of them, Phillipa O’Sullivan from Hampshire, said: “As a round-the-worlder, it feels amazing. I didn’t think about what it would feel like to be back in the UK but it’s brilliant and what a lovely warm welcome from everybody here.

“I thought the North Atlantic would be physically harder than it was but psychologically it was tough as we just took the wrong route with the weather and hit a wind hole. But we are here - we made it and crossed the Atlantic for the second time.”

This was the first ocean crossing for crew member Julie Snowdon from North Yorkshire. “It has been my dream for so long and I just can’t believe I have done it,” she said. “The North Atlantic was fantastic, I absolutely love that ocean.

“Now that we have arrived, I am looking forward to catching up with all the other teams and reflecting on what we have done. I also can’t wait to have a look around the Foyle Maritime Festival too.”

All 11 Clipper Race teams were reunited for the first time since leaving New York when Liverpool 2018 made its way up the River Foyle, after crossing the finish line at 1.13pm. A spectacular welcome awaited the eleventh placed team, with friends, family, supporters and fellow Clipper Race crews cheering the bright pink boat into Derry-Londonderry.

On arrival, skipper Lance Shepherd said: “The crew are at the top of their game and very excited to be in Derry-Londonderry, bit of a divert but we managed to catch up 500 miles on the fleet and get three points in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. We saw the wind coming in — the further north we were, the stronger the winds would be, so we put ourselves up there to get a good result. We worked well as team so really well done to the crew.”

It wasn’t the standard Atlantic crossing for the Liverpool 2018 team, who had to divert to Newfoundland in Canada in the early stages of the race to carry out a successful medevac of an ill crew member.

But after leaving Canada, the team banded together and had great success in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, picking up the maximum three bonus points on offer

Watch leader and resident Caymanian, James Macfee, said: “I am very excited to be here. We managed to get here despite some very difficult waters and tumultuous conditions. We had some good weather for the sprint, the boat was fast and it was good fun.”

With just one race to go and the overall leaderboard tight, the crew will be using every moment in Derry-Londonderry to rest and prepare for the final sprint to Liverpool, which will begin on the final day of the Foyle Maritime Festival on Sunday 22 July.

“SirSir Robin Knox-Johnston, Ralph Morton from the Seattle Sports Commission, and the Visit Seattle team

Meanwhile, legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has praised Derry-Londonderry as the Northern Irish city embraces the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race for a fourth consecutive visit.

Sir Robin, founder and chairman of the Clipper Race, sailed into the walled city on Wednesday (11 July) from Les Sables d'Olonne in France, where he was celebrating the 50th anniversary of when he began the epic voyage that would see him become the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the globe.

“It was lovely returning to Derry-Londonderry and heading up the Foyle, I’m just disappointed that I didn’t beat the entire Clipper Race fleet in!” Sir Robin said.

“I think the partnership we’ve had with the city is why the public give us such great support. This is a place where the city got behind the event and when you get that combination of an enthusiastic city and the spectacle of the boats and crew, you can do so much more. And I think the result has been a major event -- I give the city of Derry-Londonderry full credit for that success.”

Fresh from their win into Derry-Londonderry, the Visit Seattle team and skipper Nikki Henderson cheered Sir Robin into the Foyle Port Marina.

“Nikki’s performance was just fantastic, especially as I had Ralph Morton from the Seattle Sports Commission in my crew for the sail to Derry-Londonderry and he was following it avidly,” said the Clipper Race founder.

Published in Clipper Race
Page 1 of 12

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