Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – 12 ocean-racing yachts depart Gosport ahead of the start of the race later this month. Following months of training and preparations involving a constant throng of crew and skippers, the Clipper Race HQ in Gosport was left eerily empty and quiet today as the race fleet slipped its lines and the crew departed Portsmouth Harbour for London for the tenth edition Race Start.
Just ahead of departure however, an excited buzz and feeling of anticipation was felt all around the marina with the reality of the adventure ahead now within touching distance.
For some it has been a particularly long wait. Great Britain crew member Mike Tatham, 54, an off-shore rig crane driver from Insch, Aberdeenshire was the second crew member to be interviewed for the 2015-16 race. He had his interview three years ago yesterday and says: “It’s been a long few years and a steep learning curve but I now feel ready to go. Everybody’s hyper, and we just want to get racing now.
“I’m hoping for a well-rounded experience – winning races, learning, and making lifelong friends. Now that I am homeless, jobless and car-less it’s certainly feeling real now. I’ve given up everything and it’s now all about the race. We’ve done all the training, we’re ready and I’m looking forward to everything that is to come. It’s very exciting.”
James Shepherd is a 30 year-old Banker from Alresford near Winchester. He’s taking part in the full circumnavigation on board Mission Performance. James has some previous sailing experience and says: ‘Around 15 years ago a former pupil at my school came back to give a presentation on his experience of competing in this race, in what must have been one of the first events. That presentation captivated me to such a degree that ever since then I’ve dreamed of taking part.’
For Australian Ross Ham, our first double circumnavigator in the history of the Clipper Race, this was his second time leaving Gosport. The Garmin crew member says: “I’m a little apprehensive to be starting again, but very happy. Everyone has been asking me if I am mad, and what it is like; as if I have already made it round a second time.
“This time, I understand what’s ahead of me, and I want to help my fellow crew members make the most of the experience.”
American ClipperTelemed+ round the world crew member Linda McDavitt, 68, from Texas, says: “I am very excited, and I just want to start now. The team is feeling great, and we want to keep learning as we go forward from here.
“Everyone at home in Texas is waiting for updates on my blog, and my friends at the yacht club will be living vicariously through me for the next year. They have been exceptionally nice, supportive and helpful to me.”
The first female Australian Skipper in the history of the Clipper Race, Wendy Tuck, leading Da Nang-Viet Nam, says: “It feels great to be leaving Gosport at the start of the journey after all our preparation getting our boat and team ready. I’m a little nervous. We are quite tight-knit already, but will continually evolve as we come together as a team.
“I have some friends coming over from Australia for Race Start in London, and everyone is already planning to come out in a flotilla to meet me when we arrive into Sydney, so that’s something to look forward to.”
The Clipper Race fleet is due to arrive in London’s St Katharine Docks from approximately 16:45 BST on Thursday 20 August. The Race Village is open to the public from 10:00am on Saturday 22 August right through until the long awaited fleet departure on Sunday 30 August.