The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – One of Sailing’s Toughest Amateur Challenges

The remaining yachts in the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Race are expected to arrive in Seattle this week, having braved treacherous weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. They’ll be setting off from the city’s Bell Harbor Marina again on the 29th of April to tackle the race’s penultimate leg.

Only eleven of the twelve yachts that began the race are still in contention; Greenings ran aground during the third leg. Tragically, one crew member has lost his life in this year’s event. Simon Speirs, sailing on Great Britain, was blown overboard in November 2017.

Key Facts about the Clipper Round the World Race

Now in its eleventh edition, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is designed for amateur crews. They receive extensive training and use the services of professional skippers, but to complete the route is an impressive feat. The event organisers provide a fleet of twelve identical yachts. The route differs from event to event but is around 40,000 nautical miles long and features multiple legs, some of which include several races. Teams can complete as many legs as they wish and the most successful of them is awarded a stunning sailing trophy.

The race was established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first solo yachtsman to complete a non-stop global circumnavigation. The inaugural edition of the competition commenced in October 1996 and featured eight yachts, with the crew of “Ariel”, skippered by Ras Turner, winning the event. New editions of the race now commence every two years.

The specially commissioned yachts used are referred to as “clippers”, after the speedy ships that transported tea from China in the nineteenth century. Three of the yachts used in the first edition of the competition (Ariel, Taeping and Serica) shared names with clipper ships that participated in an unofficial five-vessel race known as “The Great Tea Race of 1866”. Initially, the Clipper Round the World Race used 60ft long vessels known as Clipper 60s. Today, they use 75ft long Clipper 70s.

The last race winners were Olivier Cardin, the French skipper of LMAX Exchange, and his crew, who were awarded the silver and gold sailing trophy after finishing six points ahead of Derry-Londerry-Doire.

The 2018 Clipper Yacht Race – The Yachts and the Legs

The current edition of the event began in Liverpool in August 2017. Twelve yachts left the city’s Albert Dock to attempt the eight-leg race. The route will take eleven months to complete:

  • Dare to Lead;
  • Garmin;
  • Great Britain;
  • Greenings;
  • Liverpool 2018;
  • Nasdaq;
  • PSP Logistics;
  • Qingdao;
  • Sanya Serenity Coast;
  • Visit Seattle.

This year’s legs are:

  1. The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg from Liverpool to Punta del Este, Uruguay;
  2. The South Atlantic Challenge from Punta del Este to Cape Town, South Africa;
  3. The Southern Ocean Leg from Cape Town to Fremantle, Western Australia;
  4. The All-Australian Leg from Fremantle to Airlie Beach via Sydney and Hobart;
  5. The Asia-Pacific-Challenge from Airlie Beach to Qingdao, China;
  6. The Mighty Pacific Ocean Crossing from Qingdao to Seattle, USA;
  7. The USA Coast-to-Coast Leg from Seattle to New York;
  8. The Atlantic Homecoming Leg from New York to Liverpool, UK.

Will you be following the final stages of the race? Tell us who you think will win the sailing trophy below or on Facebook or Twitter.