The Clipper Race is truly a global event and that was reinforced by the turnout on Crew Allocation Day on Saturday 20th May in Portsmouth, UK.
It was the biggest Crew Allocation attendance in the 21-year history of the biennial event. More than 450 members of crew, representing an incredible 32 nationalities, flocked to the Portsmouth Guildhall to find out their teams and skipper for the Clipper 2017-18 Race, which will depart from Liverpool on Sunday 20 August.
Clipper Race Chairman and Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was on hand to welcome everyone, and said: “Crew Allocation is one of the most important dates in the Clipper Race journey. This is where the foundation for strategies and team dynamics will be first laid as the members of the twelve teams meet each other and their Skipper for the first time, so I am very pleased to see a record number of people attending, from all corners of the globe.”
Clipper 2017-18 Crew Member Keith Williams, 61, from Panmure, New Zealand travelled more than 3,600 miles, taking three planes and a train, to hear his name read out by his skipper David Hartshorn. The distance to the Portsmouth Guildhall is nothing to Keith’s upcoming journey; he has signed up for the entire 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation and says he wouldn’t have missed Crew Allocation for anything.
Keith said: “I really wanted to meet my Skipper and team as they will be my family for a year. Some of them will be doing the full trip so it will be good to start up some friendships and bounce ideas off each other for the adventure ahead.”
Safety was the core of the opening message from both Sir Robin and Clipper Race Director Mark Light, who spoke about the introduction of the personal AIS Beacons for crew and the development of a Safety Committee for each boat to support the skippers.
Mark Light said: “It’s the Clipper Race, you know, the race is in the title. But the primary concern is safety of everyone. We have to run a safe event and we will do everything we can to do that. And I think the message is certainly home with all of the skippers. They are very good professionals and they will lead their teams in the right way and we will just continually put the message out and monitor situations and develop safety practices and cultures along the way.”
The twelve Clipper Race Skippers then individually named the teams they will spend eleven months racing 40,000 nautical miles across the world’s oceans. Along the way, the fleet of twelve 70-foot yachts will cross six oceans and stop in ports in six continents.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston added: “Over the next year, the crew will gain more experience and mileage in their log books than the average sailor.
“The more they learn about seamanship, the safer they will be as it is important to remember Mother Nature does not give out handicaps. Crew must follow their training and always strive to be the best team player they can be. This experience will be one they will never forget.”
The eleventh edition of the unique biennial Clipper Race is the only event of its kind for non-professional sailors. Almost 5,000 crew have been turned into seasoned ocean racers during the past twenty years in what is still a rare accomplishment: more people have climbed Mount Everest than have raced around the planet on its oceans under sail.
Crew can complete the full circumnavigation, or one or more of its eight legs, in one of the toughest endurance challenges. It is without doubt the world’s greatest ocean adventure.
The Clipper 2017-18 Race will start and return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock in Summer 2018 following its global route which will include stopovers in South America (port TBC), Cape Town, Western Australia (port TBC), Sydney, Hobart, East Coast Australia (port TBC) Sanya and Qingdao – China, Seattle – USA, Panama, New York, and Derry Londonderry – Northern Ireland.
by Kathryn Foulkes / Clipper Ventures