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The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has announced it will be resuming its 2019-20 edition in March next year after receiving a special event permit from the Philippines.

After sailing halfway around the world, the sailing event was suspended 18 months ago in Subic Bay due to the coronavirus pandemic. This new permission will enable Clipper Race organisers and race crew to return to the country, with the restart to take place in March 2022.

The 11-strong fleet of Clipper 70 ocean racing yachts had raced over 20,000 nautical miles from London, with stops in Portimão in Portugal, Punta del Este in Uruguay, Cape Town in South Africa and Fremantle and the Whitsundays in Australia), but have remained in Subic Bay Yacht Club since March 2020 after organisers and race crew had to return home.

Before the current edition was postponed, Clipper Race crew had crossed the Atlantic Ocean both north and south and the Indian Ocean, raced towards the Roaring Forties,and sailed around the Australian coast. They have also crossed the equator twice, experienced tropical heat and frigid cold and faced huge seas and flat calm.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which trains people from all walks of life to become ocean racers. Participants sign up to compete in one or multiple legs, or the full eleven month and 40,000nm circumnavigation. Founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the sailing event recently celebrated 25 years since its first edition in 1996.

The Clipper Race team, including co-founders Sir Robin and William Ward, met the officials from the Philippines Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board at the recently concluded World Travel Market in London to finalise the entry and logistical requirements and health protocols for the event in Subic Bay.

Clipper Race co-founders William Ward OBE (left) and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston recently met in London with Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Philippines Department of Tourism (second left) and Attorney Maria Anthonette C Velasco-Allones, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board PhilippinesClipper Race co-founders William Ward OBE (left) and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston recently met in London with Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Philippines Department of Tourism (second left) and Attorney Maria Anthonette C Velasco-Allones, chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

On receiving the special event permit, Sir Robin said: “We couldn’t be happier that the Philippines has recognised the Clipper Race as a special sporting event and we are very grateful for their support in allowing us to return to the country next year.

“We also extend our thanks to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the British Embassy in Manilla for their support in our application.

“This will have been the longest edition in our 25 year history. We appreciate it has been a long wait for our Race Crew competing in the outstanding stages of this circumnavigation. We are looking forward to getting back to our yachts in Subic Bay and continuing the Clipper 2019-20 Race.”

Preventative COVID-19 controls will be in place to mitigate risk to race crew, staff and the Philippines community and to ensure the safe and successful restart of the race. These will involve a quarantine and testing programme on arrival in the country, while staying in the Subic Bay metropolitan area and during the remainder of the circumnavigation.

Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Philippines Department of Tourism said: “The upcoming Clipper Race in Subic Bay is a big market confidence booster for the Philippines as we prepare for our country’s reopening to international leisure travellers.

“The event will also benefit a number of sectors within our tourism industry, including our hotels, with the requirement of approximately 3,000 room nights, along with transport and yacht provisions for the crew.”

Unfortunately, due to government restrictions, Chinese host ports Sanya and Zhuhai are unable to secure the required permission to allow their cities to host the Clipper Race as planned. The Qingdao Organising Committee is still exploring options for its stopover in the sailing city of Qingdao.

Once the fleet departs the Philippines next year, the sailors’ next big challenge will be tackling the mighty North Pacific Ocean, which is known as ‘the big one’. The teams will be racing towards Seattle and expected to arrive in the US city in mid April 2022.

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On Friday last (30th July), a new scheme for young people affected by the pandemic began in Oban on the Argyll and Bute coast in Scotland. The first participants include a cabaret singer, intensive care doctor and a student.

Named the Our Isles and Oceans, the initiative is working with the Clipper Race to offer sail training with the aim of building self-confidence and self-esteem, which many young have lost over the last 18 months.

The programme will run over four consecutive weeks and has recruited forty 18–35-year-olds in training groups of ten, who will learn to sail a stripped-back 68-foot Clipper Race training yacht.

Each group will also have to get used to living onboard, sleeping in bunks, and spending time in close quarters with each other. The sail training will be carried out under the leadership of a Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Skipper.

The project has been set up to offer youth opportunity and professional development and intends on highlighting the importance of a sustainable future. through the vehicle of sport and business.

There could also be the opportunity for ten successful candidates to take part in the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race on the Our Isles and Oceans team entry.

One of the participants, Siraj Balubaid, 23, a refugee of Yemen who lives in Glasgow, was first up on deck. He said: "I woke up so excited, I just want to start. The moment I woke up, I went up on deck, I didn't want breakfast or anything, I looked to the sky thinking let's go! I am really looking forward to the training. I want to go further and compete in the Clipper Race for real."

Siraj Balubaid, a refugee of Yemen who lives in GlasgowSiraj Balubaid, a refugee of Yemen who lives in Glasgow

Siraj is an avid volunteer and is currently working as General Secretary in the United Yemeni Community in Scotland Board. He applied to the Our Isles and Oceans programme after it was recommended to him by the UYCS. Following the training programme, if Siraj was selected to take part in the Clipper 2023-24 Race, he would be the first person from Yemen to compete in this global sailing event.

Our Isles and Oceans branded Clipper 68 in Largs, ScotlandOur Isles and Oceans branded Clipper 68 in Largs, Scotland

With young people being particularly impacted this past year, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world and co-founder of the Clipper Race, hopes this new programme will make a positive change in the successful candidates' lives. "Sailing is so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is onboard a yacht. The sport develops self-confidence and self-esteem which is so important to restore following the pandemic".

The first Our Isles and Oceans sailing programme runs until 2 August and then continues throughout August. More here

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The company that runs the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race has called for an independent inquiry into the official investigation of the death of a sailor during the most recent edition of the race.

Clipper Ventures have blasted UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for “failure of professionalism, impartiality and honesty” in their parallel probes of the overboard incident in the Southern Ocean that cost the life of 60-year-old retired solicitor Simon Speirs on 18 November 2017.

Despite his being tethered to the boat, as Clipper Ventures says, a “freak failure” of a tether safety clip led to Speirs entering the water as he was helping to reduce sail on board the yacht CV30, also known as GREAT Britain, amid increasing winds and sea state.

Spears was recovered from the sea by his fellow crew but could not be resuscitated. He was given a burial at sea the following day.

Clipper Ventures says the conclusions of investigations by the MCA and MAIB into the incident “are the cause of considerable concern” and involve “multiple errors and distortions of the truth” — including a suggestion by an MCA official that a nearby vessel could have taken Speirs’ body home to the UK for burial, when no such vessel existed.

Clipper Ventures also says it suspects that “significant and improper influence was applied to the MAIB investigation by the MCA team” in the bodies’ parallel investigations.

As of 1pm on Sunday 11 August, the MCA and MAIB have not released comment on Clipper Venture’s claims.

Published in Clipper Race

Four hundred crew members pose on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall, with sailing legend and Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, after discovering their Skippers and which teams they will be sailing around the world with. The Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race Crew are the most global ever, made up of 44 nationalities, with ages ranging from 18-76 with professions such as hairdresser, roofer, chiropractor and CEO.

Almost 700 adventurers will be taking part in the British run Clipper 2019-20 Race which will set off on the 1 September 2019. And it has been announced today that the event’s Race Start will be from London’s St. Katharine Docks. This will only be the third time in twelve editions the race has launched in the capital city.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Clipper Race Chairman and Founder, who last month celebrated his 50th anniversary of being the first person to sail around the world, non-stop, said to crew at the Portsmouth event “I want you to be able to say this is the best thing that you have done with your life - so far. Then I will know we have broadened your horizons. Don’t paint your life in pastel colours. You only have one life, make it bright.”

In a string of race updates, it has also been announced that Punta del Este, Uruguay, is set to return for the second consecutive edition on the 40,00nm race route. After a hugely successful stopover during the 2017-18 edition of the global race, the Yacht Club Punta del Este will again host the eleven-strong fleet as the final port of call in the first Leg. Punta del Este will also be entering its debut team, which will be led by the Clipper Race’s first ever Spanish Skipper Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez.

The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, SA, will return as a Host Port for the tenth time. The fleet will have raced approximately 10,000nm from London, UK, when it reaches Cape Town. Another 10,00nm later, after a stop in Fremantle, AUS, the fleet will arrive into Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, which was revealed as the final port for Leg 4.

After claiming an impressive second place in the last race, Seattle, USA, has confirmed that it will be returning with a team entry in the 2019-20 Race. The team will be led by British Clipper Race Skipper Ben Keitch.

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Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has described as “unfortunate” the lack of a female skipper in the upcoming 2019-20 edition of the round-the-world yacht race.

But he also expressed his hope that the gender imbalance will be corrected in future editions of the race as more and more women secure the necessary qualifications to lead a team.

In a letter to EuroSail News, Sir Robin spoke highly of the performance of Wendy Tuck and Nikki Henderson in the most recent race.

Australian skipper Tuck made history last July as the first woman to ever win a round-the-world yacht race, while Henderson recently scooped the YJA Yachtsman of the Year Award for being the youngest ever skipper in the race.

“We have had five female skippers over the years and all have been excellent without exception,” he said. “I would happily take on more provided they had the experience and ability but we did not receive any applications from suitable candidates this time around.”

Noting that 30% of Clipper Race crews — a mixture of experienced and novice sailors — are now women, Sir Robin expressed his hope that the balance will be “corrected in time”.

He also specifically referred to “courses at the Hamble School of Yachting and our new Mate position within the Clipper Race [through which] we hope to be able to encourage more women to take their sailing career to the next level”.

The 11 skippers, all men, who will lead teams out of the UK for the near year-long voyage of the Clipper 2019-20 Race were announced last week, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - Organisers of the Clipper Race have announced the 11 skippers who will lead teams in the 2019-20 edition of the round-the-world race from this August.

“Not many people are capable of racing and leading a team in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race,” said race co-founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

“As well as being excellent sailors who are proven in taking on the planet’s most hostile environments, Clipper Race skippers must also be outstanding instructors, exceptional motivators, and strong role models.

“They will need to be calm and patient under pressure, and understand all types of personalities.”

All 11 skippers begin this week with an extensive training schedule ahead with less than five months till their boats set off on the first leg from the UK to South America.

They include Ben Keitch from Sussex, whose three decades of sailing experience include leading novice crews on ocean crossings; Mark Burkes from Worcester, a veteran of the Clipper, Fastnet and the Sydney Hobart races; and former Unicef crew Seumas Kellock from Edinburgh.

Representing Cape Town in South Africa are Nick Leggatt, a sailor with more than 280,000 nautical miles and three circumnavigations in his log book, and David ‘Wavy’ Immelman, a Yachtmaster instructor.

Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez from Galicia will be the Clipper Race’s first ever Spanish skipper, and brings a wealth of national and European championship sailing experience.

Ian Wiggin from Plymouth, Chris Brooks from Essex, Josh Stickland from Southampton, Mike Surridge from West Sussex and Guy Waites from Yorkshire round out the field.

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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.

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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.”

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#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
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