Throughout the race, tales of Clipper Race crew celebrating their birthdays on board filter back and they are always a special occasion, likely to remain a completely unique event in their lifetime.
This October we are celebrating twenty years of birthdays at the Clipper Race, the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston following a lengthy conversation with his good friend and renowned explorer Sir Chris Bonington whilst the pair were climbing together in Greenland.
The discussion turned to how much it would cost to climb to the peak of Mount Everest, and the fact that whilst that opportunity was possible for non-climbers, there was no equivalent sailing challenge available. Sir Robin knew then he could offer that option for those who wanted to follow the path of his famous achievement.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to explore the world’s oceans and really get to know our planet. The Clipper Race offers this opportunity to everyone, to experience the wonders of Mother Nature at her best and worst, the satisfaction and sense of achievement that only ocean racing can bring, and the friendships that develop as your crew mates become your family, the people who look out for you no matter what.
“Once you’ve crossed an ocean with a crew, or gone as far as circumnavigating this planet of ours, there is a special bond created which will last a lifetime. I’ve said many times, no matter where you are, years from now when you walk into a bar and see a familiar face from your days on the race, no words will be needed, a simple nod is all it takes to acknowledge the remarkable achievement you once shared.”
As the dust settles following the completion of the tenth edition of the race, and our latest graduating class of ocean racers return to ‘normal’ life, (or not, as the case may be), lifelong friendships and special memories will result in many a reunion over the next twenty years and beyond.
Cast your mind back to 1996, the year that DVDs were launched in Japan, the Spice Girls had their first number one hit with Wannabe, Trainspotting and Independence Day hit our cinema screens and Team GB managed only one gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta (Thanks to rowing’s coxless pair Sir Steve and Sir Matt!).
That’s how long ago it is since our inaugural Clipper Race crew boarded eight 60 foot ocean racing yachts and departed Plymouth, UK to set off round the world. Their first stop in that race was Madeira, followed by the American port of Fort Lauderdale, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seychelles, Durban, East London, Cape Town, Salvador, and the Azores, before returning to Plymouth on 14 September 1997.
To date 55 destinations have been Host Ports in the Clipper Race and since 16 October 1996 over 4,000 people have been transformed from novice sailors to ocean racers.
That is definitely something worth celebrating in style, which is why we are hosting our 20th Anniversary Ball at one of London’s most exclusive venues, the Great Room in Mayfair’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
Reminisce at the champagne reception, swap stories over the sumptuous four course meal with crew from across the races and dance the night away with your own team mates (like it’s 1996!).
If your Clipper Race was unforgettable then join us on Saturday 15 October for a night to remember.
There are four weeks left to get your tickets for the ball. For full details on how to purchase yours and find out what is happening on the night click here.
All proceeds from the ball will be donated to Unicef, the Official Race Charity for the 2015-16 and 2017-18 editions.
To read the history of the Clipper Race over the past two decades click here.
by Clipper Round the World