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#ClipperRace - It was a close fight right up until the final stretch for ninth-placed HotelPlanner.com and 10th-placed GREAT Britain, who spent much of the Clipper Race's Leg 2: The Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms in a drag race behind the leading pack.

Despite some intense competition from GREAT Britain, HotelPlanner.com managed to pull ahead and forge a 30 nautical mile advantage during the final hours of racing. The team remained in front to cross the line at 13:33:34 UTC and claim ninth place on the leaderboard.

The crew on board HotelPlanner.com, led by Northern Irish skipper Conall Morrison, worked hard and sailed a very consistent race. The team spent nine days in ninth place, peaking on the leader board in sixth position on day six.

Speaking on arrival in Cape Town, Conall said: “Ahoy Cape Town! It’s awesome here; the view, Table Mountain. There is a nice reception here, lots of supporters with orange flags.”

On weather conditions during Race 2, he added: “We had the biggest winds of the race so far. We had 50 knots for about a day and a half and then everything in between.”

Returning home to South Africa, HotelPlanner.com crew member Adam Cristol said: “Great to be back! What a way to return!

“For me [this leg] gave a lot more of the extreme conditions which is pretty immense and what I signed up for, that adventure side of things. The HotelPlanner.com team gelled extremely well again together, we shared some lovely moments on the ocean.”

Just as the sun was setting on Table Mountain, GREAT Britain crossed the finish line at 17:18:56 UTC, becoming the tenth team to finish Race 2 within 24 hours.

GREAT Britain went into the second of thirteen races on top of the overall standings after playing its Joker Card during Race 1 from Liverpool to Punta del Este. However, the team couldn’t recreate that fourth-place result from Uruguay coming into Cape Town.

HotelPlanner.com will pick up four race points for ninth place and GREAT Britain will pick up three, but both teams will have to await the results of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint to find out if it will gain any bonus points for Race 2.

Earlier this week, the Greenings team claimed victory just 17 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Dare To Lead on Wednesday evening (18 October).

Garmin placed third just over two-and-a-half hours behind the leaders, while Visit Seattle pipped Liverpool 2018 for fourth in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday 19 October).

Qingdao crossed the line shortly after at dawn’s break to finish sixth, Sanya Serenity Coast placed seventh two hours later, and Nasdaq followed before noon in eighth position as the most improved of the fleet.

The next team due to cross the finish line in Cape Town is Unicef, which expects to face some tricky conditions on the final stretch with a view to arriving late tomorrow night (Saturday 21 October).

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The first boats in the Clipper Race fleet are expected to arrive ahead of schedule in Cape Town this coming Wednesday (18 October).

After some fast and furious sailing across the South Atlantic — with Greenings notching a whopping 312 nautical miles in a 24-hour period — the first boats passed the half-way point and are now well into the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint portion of Leg 2, the Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms.

Greenings is now sailing under Stealth Mode until 5pm this evening Irish time, which meant Garmin were the first team on the board to cross the western gate and begin the sprint in earnest last night (Friday 13 October).

“We are flying now on the residual swell from the prevailing winds, which can give us some nice little surfs,” said Garmin skipper Gaetan Thomas this morning.

Joker Card players Dare To Lead began their Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint shortly after Garmin, and the boat is in second place on the leaderboard.

However, it hasn’t all gone to plan so far, as Skipper Dale Smyth explains: “As we crossed the line, we had an unfortunate squall, we broached, blew the tack on the Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker) and recovered it, to our horror, in tatters!

“The scale of repair was to grand for our small onboard machine in the time given before Cape Town. What a disastrous way to enter the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint!

“We limped along all night under white sails and are hoping that conditions will not be too well suited to our Code 3 from here on in.”

Unlike the Scoring Gate, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint bonus points are awarded to the three teams with the quickest times. The winners therefore will only be announced once the final team has completed the challenge. And understandably, most skippers are keeping their tactics close to their chests.

Elsewhere, there have been some big jumps up the Race 2 leaderboard overnight, with Liverpool 2018 moving from ninth to third, while Qingdao from jumped from 10th place to fifth. Visit Seattle hangs onto fourth place.

Nasdaq is in seventh position, followed by the Northern Irish-skippered HotelPlanner.com and GREAT Britain. Unicef is still attempting to make ground up on the main pack following a spinnaker wrap.

At the back, PSP Logistics is continuing to race hard after being forced to turn back for repairs, with skipper Roy Taylor reporting: “By the next blog, we aim to be less than 3000 nautical miles to run, which all things considered will be a pretty big milestone for us (600 miles in eleven days).”

The bulk of the fleet is expecting to slow down over the next 24 hours as the weak ridge extending from the high behind the pack rotates over the leading teams. The fleet is still expected to have some breeze, but it will be quite fickle, and teams will need to work hard to keep any good speeds consistent.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - PSP Logistics is returning to Punta del Este today (Thursday 5 October) after a collision with a whale in the first 24 hours of the Clipper Race’s second leg caused damage to the starboard rudder.

All crew on board are safe and well and there is no risk to the yacht, but race control has instructed the team to motor-sail back to Uruguay for full repairs.

It’s a disaster for PSP Logistics, who were in fifth place in the standings — and second to arrive in Punta del Este — after the first leg from Liverpool was completed a fortnight ago.

Racing remains tight for the top eight teams out of Uruguay, spread out over just 17 nautical miles as of 3pm this afternoon Irish time.

Yesterday’s “windy and wild” start for the Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms saw leaders Dare To Lead play their Joker Card, meaning they will double any points earned on crossing the finish line in Cape Town around two weeks from now.

“We had an awful start in 40 knots of wind and we made some bad mistakes, but actually have ended up in good shape, pushing hard through this wild night,” said Dare To Lead’s skipper — and Capetonian — Dale Smith.

Liverpool 2018 were first across the Leg 2 start line but are pushing to keep second away from Visit Seattle just 2.5nm behind. Greetings, Garmin, GREAT Britain and Sanya Serenity Coast round out the chasing pack.

Qingdao slipped from third down to eight, at which point the fleet spreads out, with NASDAQ some 30nm behind the leaders, Northern Irish-skippered HotelPlanner.com about 6nm behind them in 10th, and UNICEF backmarking almost 60nm from the leaders.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Several teams continue to jostle for position in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race after Sanya Serenity Coast claimed line honours yesterday afternoon (Thursday 21 September), closely followed by PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain who arrived second and third respectively into Punta del Este late at night.

Qingdao and Dare To Lead were the fourth and fifth teams to cross the line in the early hours of this morning (Friday 22 September) and were greeted by a warm welcome from supporters despite the wet weather.

HotelPlanner.com, skippered by Northern Irish sailor Conall Morrison, was this morning arriving into Punta del Este after crossing the line in sixth place at 8.52am Irish time, and only 21 minutes separated Garmin in seventh and Liverpool 2018 in eighth place a little later in the morning.

Unicef is expected to be the ninth team to cross the line over the next few hours. Skipper Bob Beggs said: “The time for reflection will come later after a shower, a steak, and possibly a beer or two. But one thing’s for sure - team Unicef can be proud of their achievements.”

Visit Seattle is currently in 10th place after spending another day in a wind hole, but the team is now moving again and expected to arrive into Punta del Este later today.

Greenings is on course to be the 11th team to cross the line on Saturday, but the redress awarded by the race committee, for the forced diversion to Porto for a replacement skipper will still need to be taken in to account.

Nasdaq, in 12th position, is making good progress and is expected to arrive on Sunday. Skipper Rob Graham said: “Nasdaq managed to maintain good speed throughout yesterday with both watches making small adjustments to sail trim to get the best out of the boat and the wind.

“We also managed to point at our destination, which to non-sailors sounds obvious (why would you point anywhere else?) but any sailor will tell you that it doesn't seem to happen very often.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell has informed the remaining teams that are racing that a front is moving up the coast with the low heading out to sea.

“It’ll carry on being a rather cloudy and squally one too for the southern boats, always more incentive to get through it quicker,” he said.

As the low moves out to sea it should pass ahead of the northern boats, so all teams should finish by the close of the weekend.

Meanwhile, Conall Morrison has posted his final Leg 1 skipper’s update after crossing the finish line this morning:

Well here we are.

As I type at the Nav Station, we have 26 miles to go to the finish line, quite apt... a marathon.

Randel Ransom has captured a few observations about how we have all found the journey. For me, it’s such a big thing. The longest I have spent at sea before was 16 days, so I’ve doubled that figure. We have gelled as a team over the past month and I must say I am very lucky to have such willing, talented, and capable crew onboard.

We have five crew-members leaving in Punta del Este:

Heather Kemp, who has turned out to be what Tony Dickinson would call, an evolutionist. Also, a speed demon helming under spinnaker - I don't know if I would get in a car with her driving.

Tony Dickinson – a proper gentleman and good fun guy to have onboard. He is very inquisitive and was handy with all of our ropework. Arts and crafts club will be missing an important member.

Randel Ransom – great guy and likes to have an overview of how things are going onboard. Also a keen helmsman. Great blog today.

Henri Micheron – big kind-hearted man, always smiling and happiest behind the helm. We will be missing a great helmsman.

Seamus Fenlon – he's a great laugh now, handy on the helm, and mast-splicer at this stage. He shared all of the things that he wanted to do on this trip and was very happy to be woken early yesterday morning to stand on deck and watch an Albatross glide over the South Atlantic.

That's all from me now. So many things to get sorted for arrival. Thank you all for your support, for reading the blogs, and for the encouraging emails that you have been sending :)

Conall

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - HotelPlanner.com re-emerged from stealth mode into sixth position — and a wind hole — as the Clipper Race fleet approaches the finish of the first leg in Uruguay.

“We have the slightest puff of wind from the north west now as I type that might help to get us through to the other side,” said the boat’s Northern Irish skipper Conall Morrison.

Up at the front, Sanya Serenity Coast extended its lead in the closing stages of the race to Punta del Este as the majority of the fleet were caught out by the wind.

PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain have moved up to second and third respectively, having taken an easterly route, and are hoping to avoid the wind hole that has trapped teams to the west.

Leading skipper Wendy Tuck is not resting on her laurels. “Now less than 500nm to go and the nerves start to get shot to pieces. It’s the time in between position reports that does it. We get an update every six hours and it’s amazing what an overactive imagination can do.”

Roy Taylor, skipper of PSP Logistics, is playing a cautious game after moving up to second place. “After a great night sail with a lovely spinnaker gybe we managed to shred our Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker). We still have our Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) and an unused Code 1 (lightweight spinnaker) but are now playing a game of protecting our assets while we see how the table looks in the morning.”

Dare To Lead has moved up into fourth position after being faced with some rather complex routing in to Punta del Este. Skipper Dale Smyth explained: “We are all currently dealing with transitioning a low-pressure cell that formed in this area and it is just incredible how close we are after 6,000 nautical miles.”

The teams behind have been affected by wind holes. Skipper of fifth-placed Qingdao, Chris Kobusch, said: “Where the previous 24 hours were dominated by fast, intense spinnaker runs, the last few hours showed an absolute absence of wind.”

Skipper of seventh-placed Garmin, Gaëtan Thomas, is putting on a brave face. “Let's keep positive because, to be honest, a wind hole is the last thing a sailor wants! Again, it is going be a new start for the last bit of this leg. It will be crazy to see all of us in sight of each other in the approach of the finishing line!”

Visit Seattle and Unicef have have been trading places between eight and ninth after losing their podium positions yesterday by taking the westerly route.

Nikki Henderson, skipper of Visit Seattle, remains optimistic. “We are hoping this has been a good decision, and the wind fills in over here in the west before filling in in the east and we shoot along to Uruguay before the others. Everything feels a gamble right now - so it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few days.”

Liverpool 2018 was in tenth place before entering stealth mode earlier today (Tuesday 19 September), hiding their position from the fleet till tomorrow afternoon as fellow back markers Greenings and Nasdaq were gaining ground.

Dan Smith, relief skipper for Greenings, said: “We have been keeping a good eye on the weather and hope to sail around some of the wind holes that others in the fleet have found themselves parked up in.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell reports that the low is heading southeast taking with it most of the deep cloud. After it’s gone, the breeze should return to the northeast for all of the teams but a next front may get to them before the finish.

Tactics will come in to play all the way in to Punta del Este, with Sanya Serenity Coast expected to cross the finish line on Thursday 21 September between 4pm and 10pm Irish time.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - The battle for positions in the Clipper Round The World Race is heating up as the fleet barrels down on the first scoring gate of the 2017-18 race.

As of this morning (Thursday 31 August), Qingdao had a 33-nautical-mile lead on second-place GREAT Britain, who played their Joker card earlier in this first leg to net them double points — so if they can maintain position, they will leap into the lead in the overall standings.

Behind them in the middle of the pack, HotelPlanner.com — skippered by Derry sailor Conall Morrison — is in fourth, some 13nm behind third-placed Sanya Serenity Coast and 14nm ahead of UNICEF.

As the Trade Winds drive the fleet south past the Canaries, and with less than 500 nautical miles to the first scoring gate, the pressure to get points on the board is building.

“Our race remains on for the scoring gate,” says Morrison. “We have shown up as third on the leaderboard recently, so there is a point to play for. It seems that competition is tight between Sanya Serenity Coast, Dare To Lead, Garmin, UNICEF and ourselves.

“Hoping for another sunny day of trade-wind sailing today – only one Fastnet Race to go to the scoring gate.”

The teams in the middle of the fleet have also been assessing their tactics, working hard, focusing on coaching and remembering that the Clipper Race is a marathon, not a sprint — something that will become all too clear when the fleet reaches the Doldrums.

But before then, a potential obstacle could be a synoptic wake left behind Hurricane Irma as it heads west across the mid Atlantic.

“We are still looking for the scoring gate, but it is more important to see what is behind it, as the weather looks pretty crazy after the Cape Verde Islands up to the [Doldrums] corridor,” says Garmin skipper Gaëtan Thomas.

“A lot of things might happen and the positions will keep changing, the spectacle is just starting!”

Far behind the rest of the fleet, meanwhile, Greenings has rejoined the first leg after its detour to Lisbon following the medevac of skipper David Hartshorn with a hand injury.

The good news is that Hartshorn’s surgery was a success. The bad news is that the team have a lot of ground to gain — especially if their appeal for redress over time lost during their diversion is rejected by the race committee.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - A Clipper Race yacht is diverting to Portugal after the team’s skipper suffered a serious injury to his left hand that required emergency medical attention.

Greetings skipper David Hartshorn got his left thumb caught in a spinnaker sheet while leading a drop of their code 3 heavyweight kite in breezy conditions on Saturday night (26 August), with wind blowing between 18 and 22 knots some 450 nautical miles off the Portuguese coast.

Hartshorn received treatment from team medic Miles Berry, a surgeon doing Legs 1 and 4, who also liaised with the race’s remote medical support physicians PRAXES ahead of the skipper’s helicopter medevac yesterday afternoon (Sunday 27 August).

“An agreed medevac procedure was put into place where David was lifted from the water rather than from on deck and the manoeuvre went really well,” said Clipper Race director Mark Light.

“The Greenings crew have been incredible and have remained composed throughout. They are now motoring directly to Porto under the command of Clipper Race coxswain and round-the-world crew member Jeremy Hilton.”

Deputy race director Daniel Smith is in constant communication with the crew and will receive regular updates.

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday 29 August), Greenings is expected to reach Porto, where the race crew will be met by Clipper Race officials who will advise on the next steps.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Clipper Race fleet has split into two clusters as they pass Portugal en route to South America.

On the westerly course, GREAT Britain, Liverpool 2018 and HotelPlanner.com took the gamble of adding extra miles to their route, but making up for it with more favourable wind conditions.

They’re also gaining significant time on the leaders further east, who have suffered from a wind hole over the weekend.

Indeed, the western option has paid off exceptionally well for HotelPlanner.com, skippered by Derry-Londonderry man Conall Morrison, which leapt to fifth place in the latest standings (as of 8am on Monday 28 August) and is holding sixth overall.

The weather for the week ahead looks more promising for both groups as they converge for the swing past the Azores.

Published in Clipper Race

Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, will again feature as a Host Port in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.

The decision that the race will visit the Northern Irish city for the fourth consecutive time, in July 2018, was confirmed today by Derry City and Strabane District Council at its Business and Culture Committee meeting.

Welcoming the city back to the global race route, Clipper Race Chairman and Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “We are very pleased to continue our long-term relationship with the city of Derry-Londonderry.

“Over the past six years the city has welcomed our international crew, supporters and partners with open arms and is an exceptional place to visit and do business with. The spirit of Derry-Londonderry and its people is contagious, which has consistently positioned itself as one of the most popular destinations the race has partnered with in its 20 year history. We look forward to working with Derry City and Strabane District Council and its stakeholders to create another unforgettable event.”

Since 2011 in the lead up to its title of UK City of Culture 2013, the Clipper Race has been at the centre of the Northern Irish city and its surrounding regions campaign, which has used the global nature of the race as a stage to build its legacy and attract investment to the region through tourism and business.

One of the most highly anticipated Host Ports on the Clipper Race route in the past three race editions, the ‘LegenDerry’, and award winning, Foyle Maritime Festival, held along the city’s iconic river, has provided an exciting programme of diverse events in celebration of the 40,000 nautical-mile odyssey of the race.

To build on the success of the 2016 festival, which experienced a record breaking £3.5 million boost to its local economy, Derry City and Strabane District Council aims to continue to develop the local economy and has identified that tourism, arts and culture are fundamental to promote growth and sustainability in its hospitality sector. The city’s ambition is to build on its international status and recognition as a world-class destination and boost tourism and job figures in the region significantly by 2020.

Alderman Hilary McClintock, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council said:
“This announcement is the result of ongoing discussions between Council and key stakeholders to build on the international profile acquired by the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival. Council has given a commitment to host a major maritime themed festival on a bi-annual basis to build on the legacy of the Clipper Race partnership over the past six years and we are delighted to be a designated port for this global event.

“During its last three races, the Clipper Race allowed us to drive the visitor and tourism economy of the North West forward, attracting both local and global audiences to our city and region.”

Following the nine-day festival in 2016, which was built around the Clipper Race stopover last July, an independent research report revealed that 25 per cent of the 163,000 visitors who attended Derry-Londonderry’s waterfront during that time were international.

Two thirds of visitors stated that the Clipper Race was a primary reason for visiting, which resulted in July 2016 being the best performing month for hotel room sales ever recorded in the city.

Derry City and Strabane District Council has revealed it plans to work with local businesses across the region to host the race. John Kelpie, Chief Executive with the Council, said: “The global stature of the Clipper Race will enable council officers to work with key stakeholders from within the statutory and private sectors to leverage funding and sponsorship that will ensure the delivery of another successful event worthy of the international profile it will attract.”

Approximately 700 crew will take part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, representing over 40 different nationalities. Starting in August, the race will include up to 14 different races across six continents. The race fleet will arrive in Derry-Londonderry in July 2018 during the homecoming leg.

Published in Clipper Race

An independent report commissioned by the Clipper Race with a Northern Irish research company into the economic and social impact of last July’s stopover and Foyle Maritime Festival on Derry-Londonderry has revealed the biggest impact of its six-year partnership.

The results, which have been published today, include a record-breaking injection of £3.5 million to local business. Clipper Race CEO William Ward said: “The partnership between the Clipper Race and Derry-Londonderry has always felt incredibly special, but to read this report and hear exactly how the city, and its local community, has benefited both economically and socially, provides a clear and measurable achievement.”

“Whilst Derry-Londonderry may not be on the same geographical scale as other Clipper Race destinations, such as New York, Sydney, and London, its strong community pride and infectious sense of hospitality has consistently made it one the most popular stopovers across all six continents we visit, which makes it one of our biggest success stories in the twenty years of working with global destinations.”

Key findings from the independent report produced by the CARD Group, a Belfast based analysis firm, showed a growth in visitor spend of 16%, a significant increase on the £3 million recorded in 2014, with 83.4% of this directly resulting from the Clipper Race fleet visit.

There was a significant boost to the local hospitality industry. The report found July 2016 was the best performing month for hotel room sales ever recorded in the city, peaking at 97.89% on July 16, the night before the Clipper Race fleet departed Derry-Londonderry. An estimated 22,096 bed nights were purchased during the festival, with average hotel occupancy at 85.55% during the nine days.

The Clipper Race has been instrumental in highlighting the waterfront as a major asset and incorporated the new high quality Foyle Marina pontoons to host the fleet - a major legacy. The 2016 Foyle Maritime Festival, which ran for nine days between July 9-17, included 300 performers, 86 trade stands, and 60 water based activities for public participation over a 1.5 mile long festival zone along the waterfront, and recorded its highest ever festival attendance of 163,576 visitors.

A record 24,960 people visited the festival on the Clipper Race fleet’s departure day on July 17, to wave both their home team and the rest of the twelve strong fleet off in a fitting finale to the third and final fleet visit of the original six-year partnership created around the UK City of Culture 2013. The second highest attended day was July 16, on which the festival’s grand finale event, ‘The Voyage of Sunniva’, took place. The grand finale event concluded with an impressive night parade featuring the Clipper Race fleet and a firework display, orchestrated by local landscape theatre company LUXe.
A quarter of all festival visitors came from outside Northern Ireland, a 25% increase from 2014, fulfilling another partnership objective of increasing tourism levels to the region. 93% of additional visitors stated the inclusion of the Clipper Race had influenced their decision to visit the festival.

There has also been a significant social impact. Two bursary projects named ‘Your Next Chapter’ and ‘Voice of a Community’ aimed at providing life changing experiences for local people who were unemployed or working within the community sector, gave a number of Derry-Londonderry residents a berth on board the Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht for a leg of the Clipper Race. As well as providing a positive experience which helped develop life skills such as confidence, team work and resilience, bursary candidates previously unemployed are now in full-time employment, two within the marine industry.

In terms of boosting global awareness and image, which was a major objective behind the city’s decision to partner with the Clipper Race, 90% of visitors felt the global image of Derry-Londonderry had been improved as a direct result of the festival. The Clipper 2015-16 Race partnership also generated over 3,585 individual media stories about Derry-Londonderry and its Derry~Londonderry~Doire team entry, which finished a best ever second place overall, and reached a unique potential global audience base of 942 million, translating into a PR value of £10.3 million (Source: Kantar Media).

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Hilary McClintock, said: “The Clipper Race has given us an incredible opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world and it has been fantastic to see Derry-Londonderry profiled in such a positive way on its significant global platform.”

“Once again we have 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. Thank you to all the local businesses and community members who came together to make this such a memorable experience, both for the city and all those who visited us from afar.”
The original partnership with the Clipper Race officially came to an end in 2016. The Host Ports and Team Partners for the Clipper 2017-18 Race and future editions are currently being negotiated. The next race will depart the UK in August this year.

Published in Clipper Race

Gavin Reid, 28, an amateur sailor who was born profoundly deaf, has beaten “his heroes”, Giles Scott, the Rio 2016 Gold Medalist, and Brian Thompson, Round the Island Race Record Holder, to be honoured as the boats.com 2016 YJA Yachtsman of the Year.

The award recognised Gavin’s heroic act of seamanship whilst competing as a crew member in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, when he came to the mid-ocean rescue of a sailor found trapped at the top of the mast on another yacht, which was not competing in the Clipper Race.

Gavin has four caps for the Scottish Deaf Rugby team and has always enjoyed challenges. Like 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew, he had no previous sailing experience before embarking on his training for the 40,000 nautical mile marathon, regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges.

The award was made following a close vote taken by members of the Yachting Journalist’s Association, and places Gavin Reid in the same category as giants of the sport, Ian Walker – Volvo Ocean Race Winner, Sir Ben Ainslie – America’s Cup Winner, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – the legendary solo sailor and Clipper Race founder, who have all won the boats.com JYA Yachtsman of the Year Award in the past four years.

On January 5, 2016, Gavin was racing from Sydney to the Whitsundays with his team aboard the yacht Mission Performance in Race 6 of the 14-stage, eleven month long Clipper Race series, when an SOS was picked up off the New South Wales coast of Australia from a non-Clipper Race yacht, returning from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which had a crewman stuck at the top of the mast.

The Mission Performance yacht was nearest to the stricken vessel and Gavin, who uses hearing aids in both ears, volunteered to swim between the two yachts, as conditions prevented transferring alongside, where he found four other crew onboard, all incapacitated and unable to help their crewmate who had been tangled in halyards at the top of the mast for several hours.

Gavin had become experienced in mast work during the Clipper Race and used the one remaining staysail halyard to hoist himself two thirds of the way up the swinging mast, then climbed the rest of the way hand-over-hand to reach the crewman, untangle the lines, and help to lower him down safely.

Gavin’s bravery has already been recognised by the Henri Lloyd Seamanship award at the Clipper Race Finish in London last summer, the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Outstanding Seamanship Award, and he was also recognised at the 2016 Australian Sailing Awards.

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “Gavin impressed tremendously during his time on the Clipper Race. For a young man who had never sailed before he started our training, Gavin showed great commitment and never let his inexperience hold him back. He quickly developed excellent sailing skills under the guidance of his Skipper, and early on was selected to be a Watch Leader.

“The Clipper Race is highly competitive but faced with any situation where a fellow sailor on another boat was in serious trouble the crew of Mission Performance, who are fully trained with a safety first mentality, upheld the tradition of the sea that you do not hesitate to go to the assistance of another sailor in distress, setting an excellent example of seamanship which is a crucial attribute for all good ocean racing sailors.

“This is the pinnacle of British sailing awards and amongst the most prestigious accolades in the sailing world. I’m very proud of Gavin and the entire crew.”

Gavin, who quit his job as a Supply Chain Coordinator, to take part in the almost year-long Clipper Race now wants to pursue a career in sailing.

Published in Clipper Race
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