SINCE leaving Liverpool almost a year ago, the eleven Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race teams have battled each other in twelve races, experiencing everything from frustrating wind holes to ‘phenomenal sea states’, boat speeds up to 35 knots (equivalent to 40 mph), extreme heat and freezing conditions.
But their epic endurance challenge is almost over as the thirteenth and final stage in this unique global adventure has departed from Derry-Londonderry, destination Liverpool, where the race will end this Saturday, 28 July at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.
The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other. With no previous sailing experience necessary, it’s the only event on the planet which trains non-professional sailors to complete a 40,000 nautical mile race through some of Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions, with each team guided by a professional Skipper.
In an exciting outcome for women’s sport, Skippers Nikki Henderson and Wendy Tuck are competing to be the first ever female winner in the event’s 22 years, with the strong likelihood that both will end up topping the overall standings. This would be a ground-breaking result for sailing, as a female Skipper has never before won a round the world yacht race, and also for sport in general where it is rare to have women and men compete in the same competition.
After getting off to a clean start, the teams, including Liverpool’s bright pink team entry, Liverpool 2018, will race anti-clockwise around Ireland, to Liverpool, which is expected to take five days. The final race will conclude with a thrilling sprint finish up the River Mersey on 28 July, towards the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, where crew will be given a heroes’ welcome by family, friends, and over 100,000 expected spectators.
Sanya Serenity Coast, skippered by Australian Wendy Tuck, 53, went into the final race at the top of the leaderboard with 137 points. Teams Visit Seattle and Qingdao, skippered by Brit Nikki Henderson and German Chris Kobusch, are joint second with 123 points each. Shrewd tactician Henderson, 24, also the youngest ever Skipper of the Clipper Race, has chosen to play her Joker Card on the very last race which means her points will be doubled.
Ahead of departing for the race start, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “It’s time for us to pull out everything we have, last night one of my crew reminded me that when I first met the team I said I was aiming for a top four finish. We can certainly aim higher now.
“I have had an awesome year and I feel privileged to have been the leader of this amazing crew. To my biggest competitor in this final race I say, Nikki you are amazing, at 24 I couldn’t even be in charge of myself, let alone up to 50 plus crew who you have got round the world fast and safely. However we finish up, women’s sailing will be the winner.”
Once teams cross the finish line in Liverpool Bay, it won’t quite be over because Race 13 will then conclude with a 20 mile sprint up the River Mersey to the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, in which the top three teams will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points respectively.
Giving his opinion on the contest for the overall trophy, Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says “There has never been a round the world sailing race where the leading skippers are women. The competition is tough with experienced sailors and a previous winner too. To have men and women competing together in sport on a level playing field is very special and I’m really looking forward to what this last race brings. I’m incredibly proud of Nikki and Wendy and whatever their final standings are, I couldn’t imagine better role models for women’s sport.
Sir Robin, who is sailing his own yacht from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool today, added: “We’re looking forward to some big celebrations in Liverpool. A circumnavigation is the sailing equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, it’s a momentous achievement and we hope to see big crowds out once again to help us welcome these courageous crew home.
Since leaving Liverpool in August last year, the race route has included stopovers in Punta del Este, Uruguay; Cape Town, South Africa; Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart and the Whitsundays, Australia; Sanya and Qingdao in China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York, USA; and most recently, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
A programme of free public events including the Clipper Race Village, Prize Giving, free open boat tours and more will run from Thursday 26 July through to Sunday 05 August.
LIVERPOOL PUBLIC SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY 26 JULY AND FRIDAY 27 JULY
RACE VILLAGE OPEN 10:00 – 18:00
- Head to the big red Clipper Race Dome where Virtual Reality headsets will take you from dry land on Royal Albert Dock Liverpool to the middle of the Southern Ocean so you can see for yourself what life is like on board.
- Talk with adventurous crew members who have raced in the Clipper Race
- Try your hand at the Marlow knot tying station. New to sailing? Our experts will show you the ropes!
SATURDAY 28 JULY – CLIPPER RACE FINISH DAY
09.00 – 18.00 Race Village open and Clipper Race Dome open, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
09.30 – 10.30 Sprint Race Finish in front of Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, watch the action from the riverside
11.15 – 11.45 Parade of Sail on the River Mersey
12:00 Fleet to enter Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
12:00 – 18:00 Animation programme begins at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
14.15 Public Prize Giving at Royal, Museum of Liverpool, near Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
SUNDAY 29 JULY
10:00 – 17:00 Race Village and Clipper Race Dome open, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
12:00 – 17:00 Animation programme at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
11:00 – 16:00 Clipper Race Open Boats, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool – take a FREE tour of one of the Clipper 70 racing yachts fresh from completing its third circumnavigation of the planet and hear first-hand about what life is like racing across the world’s oceans from crew members.
MONDAY 30 JULY TO SUNDAY 05 AUGUST – FREE EVENTS
10:00 – 18:00 Clipper Race Open Boats – FREE tours of the bright pink Liverpool 2018 team yacht fresh from its circumnavigation will be running all week at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool. Step on board to hear about what it takes to race across the world’s oceans.
Tuesday 31 July – 18:00 – Clipper Race Public Talk, Holiday Inn Express, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool
Saturday 4 August only – 10:00 – Clipper Race Public Talk, Holiday Inn Express, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool