The biggest ever edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race got underway yesterday (20 August) on the River Mersey, Liverpool

21 August

In front of a crowd of thousands, the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race started from Liverpool yesterday (20 August).

The day began with crew farewell ceremonies with family, friends and supporters looking on from the Albert Dock colonnades as each team had their moment on stage before all 247 crew members boarded their yachts, ready to leave land behind for approximately four weeks.

The teams paraded under sail up the River Mersey for the crowds of onlookers before pointing their bows for their first destination – Punta del Este in south east Uruguay.

Catherine Morgan, whose daughter, Pip O’Sullivan set sail for Punta del Este for the first leg of her circumnavigation on board GREAT Britain, said it was an emotional moment.

“I think the hardest moment for me was when they actually slipped lines and I felt very, very emotional. I’d held it all in until that point. But now she’s out at sea and the adventure has really started. We’ve been waiting for so long for it!”, she added.

A boat with a pink hull and white sails begins the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2017-18

Liverpool begins the race. Credit: onEdition

Spectators came from all over the country to be in Liverpool for this special occasion, including Sally Donaldson, who was there to support her uncle, Michael Husband, a circumnavigator on Dare To Lead.

“We’ve got all our family here. They’ve travelled from London, some from Yorkshire, everywhere to come and see him,” she said.

“It’s been a fantastic, big day. It’s obviously such a special occasion and we wouldn’t have missed it,” added Donaldson.

Many of the crew on board have been preparing for this moment for up to two years and even after undergoing the four levels of intense Clipper Race training, setting out to sail across an ocean for the first time is a daunting challenge.

Crowds cheer at the start of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in Liverpool

Crowds cheer on the crews. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Legendary sailor and Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the planet almost 50 years ago, founded the race to allow anyone, regardless of experience, the chance to experience ocean racing.

“Over the next 11 months, our crew and skippers will get to face everything Mother Nature can throw at them. Upon their return they will have sailed across many of the world’s greatest oceans. Very few people get to say that,” he stated.

“The Clipper Race has got bigger and better with each edition and I can’t help feeling incredibly proud as I watch our crew head off on what will certainly be a life changing journey. I will be watching them closely and wish them all safe voyage,” added Sir Robin.

Continued below…

A cannon blast marked the start of the race in sunny conditions with strong tide. With winds against them, the first mark was a test of trimming, tacking and spotting the wind.

As the excited crowd looked on, GREAT Britain was the first team across the Start Line with Sanya Serenity Coast and Garmin less than a half a boat length behind.

With a short inshore circuit getting the race underway, Dare to Lead led the way over the line on the course’s return loop with Garmin less than half a boat length behind.

A fleet of yachts on a river in Liverpool

And they’re off! Credit: Clipper Round the World

Greenings and PSP Logistics struggled in the light airs and strong tide and faltered on the start line but received one of the loudest cheers as it rounded the mark and has managed to keep in touch with the fleet as the teams now race into the Irish Sea.

After the excitement of starting in front of the masses, the test of endurance will now get underway as the 12-strong Clipper Race fleet heads 6,400 nautical miles, the equivalent distance of ten Fastnet Races, through the Atlantic Ocean towards Punta del Este, Uruguay.

This opening leg of the 11-month series will take approximately 35 days to complete and is the longest ever in the race’s 21-year history.


11 August

After months of planning, training and preparation, the Clipper Round the World Race fleet is on its way to Liverpool.

All 12 70-foot ocean racing yachts slipped lines on Wednesday (9 August), and won’t return to their home base at Gosport Marina until the 40,000 nautical mile race across the world’s oceans finishes in almost a year’s time.

The skippers and their delivery crew, made up mainly of people taking part in the opening Atlantic Trade Winds Leg from Liverpool to Punta del Este, Uruguay, have spent the past week preparing the boats, and themselves, for the epic adventure ahead.

John Vearncombe, a 53 year old property investor from Swanmore, Hampshire, will be completing the full circumnavigation on Liverpool 2018.

“We’ve been working hard to get the boat ready,” he said.

“All the new rigging has been put on and we have run the sheets. We’ve been servicing the winches, a bit of painting, redecorating, making it all watertight. Totally getting the boat ready for what the sea conditions will throw at us over the next year while we travel around the world,” added Vearncombe.

Another non-professional sailor taking part is Pip O’Sullivan from Ramsdell, Hampshire, who had never sailed before the four levels of Clipper Race training.

“Now it is time to go to Liverpool I am feeling really nervous, I’ve said goodbye to friends and family and I’m really excited now about getting going,” says Pip, who is racing around the world with GREAT Britain.

Locals turned out on both sides of Portsmouth Harbour to bid the Clipper Race fleet, skippers, and crew farewell, as they began the almost 500 nautical mile delivery to the world-famous UNESCO waterfront Albert Dock in Liverpool.

The Clipper Race fleet is due to arrive in Liverpool on Monday (14 August), which will herald the official opening of the Clipper Race Village at Albert Dock.

After a white sail parade on the Mersey, the teams will be treated to an official civic welcome ceremony.

There will be time for final preparation before the race starts next Sunday (20 August)

The first of eight legs that make up the Clipper Race, the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg, will see the twelve teams race from Liverpool to Punta del Este. At around 6,400 nautical miles, this will be the longest opening leg in the 21 year history of the Clipper Race.

The eleventh edition of the biennial round the world yacht race will also be the biggest yet in terms of crew – 712 non-professional crew will be taking part in the ultimate ocean challenge, representing 41 different nationalities.

After crossing six oceans and visiting 13 stopover ports on six continents, the fleet will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock for the Race Finish on 28 July 2018, where one of the 12 teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.

26 April

For the first time in a decade, Liverpool will be the start and finish port of the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Race Start day is set for Sunday, 20 August 2017, and thousands of people are expected to descend on the historic Albert Dock to wave farewell to family and friends.

Race chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who was at the dock to reveal the news, said: “We are thrilled to announce that the Clipper Race is returning to the historic city of Liverpool.”

“A significant site for UK maritime history, I fondly remember the warm reception we received when Liverpool last hosted the Clipper Race and am looking forward to returning to Albert Dock again this August,” continued the legendary sailor.

“The Clipper Race has grown enormously in number of participants, yacht entries, economic influence and media value since it was last hosted by Liverpool a decade ago and we are looking forward to putting on an even bigger show in the city this time, which will not just have significant local economic impact, but will also put a maritime spotlight on the city all around the world,” added Sir Robin.

It is hoped that the race’s global platform will help to raise Liverpool’s international profile and maritime legacy, as well as inspire the next generation of sailors and seafaring enthusiasts in the waterfront city.

City leaders also aim to use the race to promote Liverpool’s cultural heritage on the world stage to position the city as the home of large scale cultural events that are accessible for all – reinforced at the moment as Liverpool bids to be the UK host for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.


Commenting on the decision, the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “It is a huge coup for Liverpool to once again play host to the start and finish of this prestigious race.”

“This city embraces and thrives on maritime spectacles – our affinity with the River is always much-celebrated and being the start and finish partner of the Clipper 2017-18 Race is sure to attract thousands to our world-famous waterfront.”

He added: “Staging an event of this calibre puts the city once again on an international platform – and this now being our fourth time welcoming this event, it really feels like we are the home of the Clipper Race.”

“The impact on the local economy as a result of this race will of course be huge, but the pride it will engender in the people of Liverpool is priceless as the international spotlight shines on the city once again. We look forward to welcoming the fleet, its crew and supporters,” commented the Mayor.

Liverpool has not only made a unique contribution to world commerce and culture, it has one of the world’s great waterfronts, with Albert Dock part of a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city.

Aside from Liverpool, the only other cities in the world that have arrival ports in the heart of the city are Sydney, New York, and Shanghai.

The chief executive, Albert Dock Liverpool, Sue Grindrod, said the Clipper 2017-18 Race Start was going to be “yet another spectacular event at Albert Dock this summer for our visitors.”

“As one of the world’s most important maritime cities, it is a thrill to welcome back the race to the waterfront for a fourth time, with Liverpool yet again on the world stage, and Albert Dock firmly at the heart of the action. The yachtsmen and women are guaranteed a warm Liverpool welcome in August before they embark on their intrepid adventure,” she said.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race will mark the fourth-time Liverpool has hosted the Clipper Race in its eleven editions, making the city the event’s most frequented start and finish port ever.

Liverpool previously hosted the start and finish for the 2002-03, 2005-06 and 2007-08 race editions in the lead up to it being named European Capital of Culture in 2008.

The race will return to 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.


16 March

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has revealed its line-up of professional skippers who will lead twelve teams of amateur crew in the eleventh edition of the world-famous challenge, setting sail in August.

The UK is  strongly represented with a combination of Welsh, Irish and English Skippers, along with crew from all over the world. For the second edition in a row, two female Skippers will be leading Clipper Race teams, one of whom will be the youngest Clipper Race Skipper to date.

Clipper round the world yacht skippers lined up in a row

The skippers for the 2017-18 edition of the race. Credit: onEdition

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing. Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of a circumnavigation, but you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.

“Once again it is great to see our Skippers reflecting a diverse range of age, gender and geographical locations. As ever, I wish all twelve Skippers and their teams the best in their Clipper 2017-18 Race campaigns.”, he added.

With over 700,000 NM logged between them, the Clipper 2017-18 Race Skippers are looking forward to passing on their knowledge and expertise to their crew.

Nikki Henderson, 23, from Guildford will make history as youngest Clipper Race Skipper to date during the 2017-18 edition. On feeling any added pressure, she says: “There is pressure for all of us to perform, but I am confident in my experience, skill level and maturity.”

Hoping to build on the lessons learnt during her debut Clipper 2015-16 Race campaign, Wendy Tuck, 52, from Sydney is preparing to Skipper her second consecutive Clipper Race.

Gaëtan Thomas, 29, from Brussels will be the first Belgian to Skipper an entry in the Clipper Race. On this he says “I am proud to be able to represent the colours of my country around the world.”

LMAX Exchange wins The Clipper Round The World 2015-16

The participant, nicknamed the ‘Dynamic Dozen’, have started working full-time at the Clipper Race HQ in Gosport, Hampshire, this week, where they are leading the intensive crew training courses and making necessary race preparations.

This is the line-up of Clipper 2017-18 Race Skippers:


Conall Morrison, 35, from Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland has a strong sailing background in both racing and sailing instruction. The Northern Irishman, who began sailing at age eleven on Lough Swilly and has watched the Clipper Race fleet arrive into Derry-Londonderry, is relishing the upcoming mental and physical challenge.


David Hartshorn, 52, from Chepstow, Wales is familiar with the Clipper Race having previously taking part in the Pacific Ocean Leg as a crew member. David is a retired Superintendent who spent 30 years between Gwent Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police Service and is also a highly-experienced sailor. After retiring from the Metropolitan Police Force in 2014, David became a Clipper Race Training Skipper and is now looking forward to taking on the role of Skipper.

Tristan Brooks, 35, from Bangor has a vast sailing background and a highly-experienced Superyacht Captain. Tristan was exposed to boats from an early age and began sailing aged 13 on the Menai Strait. He has spent the past thirteen years working and instructing in the Superyacht industry which has taken him all over the globe, including most recently a 90-foot sailing yacht in Hong Kong.


Nicola ‘Nikki’ Henderson, 23, from Guildford, Surrey, is set to make Clipper Race history after being selected as the youngest ever professional skipper to lead a team in the 40,000-nautical mile Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race. Nikki has skippered three ARC races across the Atlantic (twice winning the Youngest Skipper Award), the Caribbean 600 – an inshore race circuit, two Cowes Weeks, and sailed over 10,000 miles in offshore deliveries. As an RYA instructor for over three years she has already taught over 200 students and also launched a Sailing and Watersports centre in Denver, Colorado.


Andy Burns, 31, from Skegness, Lincolnshire has already had a vast sailing career that spans 19 years and has seen him log over 100,000 nautical miles working around the globe in sail training and superyacht industries. An experienced yacht racer, Andy has competed in three Round the Island Races, six Superyacht Regattas, Cowes Week, the Panerai Classic, The Bicentenary, Sydney Harbour Twilight Series and Lion Island Races.


Rick Powell, 52, from Chillington, Devon is an established yacht Skipper, RYA Yachtmaster Instructor and Marine Engineer whose sailing experience spans nearly two decades. Rick is looking forward to combining his wide range of sailing, engineering and leadership skills as he takes on the role of Clipper Race Skipper.


Lance Shepherd, 53, from Blackpool, Lancashire is a former Royal Marine who left to become a freelance Skipper. Lance has extensive experience in ocean crossings, yacht racing, deliveries, team building, leadership and teaching of the RYA sailing syllabus. For Lance, who has followed the Clipper Race since it began in 1996, to become a Clipper Race Skipper is a dream come true.


Rob Graham, 38, from Angmering, West Sussex is no stranger to the Clipper Race. His partner, Alison Driver took part in the 2009-10 race as a crew member and since 2011 Rob has worked as a Training Skipper and mate for the Clipper Race, even getting involved in the commissioning and refit of the Clipper 70 yachts which he will now race round the world on. Having already successfully sailed from Europe to Cape Town, South Africa, Rob is most looking forward to the infamous Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride to the west coast of Australia.


Roy Taylor, 47, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire is a former Royal Air Force Weapons Technician, who has spent the past decade as a sailing instructor in both the UK and Germany. Most recently, he has been working with young people from the Marine Society and Sea Cadets of the United Kingdom’s training brig, the TS Royalist.

The next major event in the pre-race calendar is Crew Allocation, at Portsmouth Guildhall, May 20, where all Skippers and crew will be assigned to their teams for the first time.


Wendy Tuck, 52, from Sydney, is set to become the first Australian skipper to complete two circumnavigations with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Wendy got into sailing in her twenties and prior to the last edition of the Clipper Race, she spent the last decade as an RYA sailing instructor and charter skipper. This race will include her 11th Sydney Hobart where she won the Clipper Race Class in 2015.


Chris Kobusch, 32, from Herford, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany has more than 70,000 nautical miles in his log book. Chris has worked and sailed all around the world including some ports on the Clipper Race route such as South Africa, China, UK and Australia. Working as an Instructor at the race’s Sydney Training hub, Chris also navigated in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on board CV5 in competition against his inspiration in sailing, Sir Robin.


Gaëtan Thomas, 29, from Brussels, is the first Belgian Skipper to lead a team during the Clipper Race. Gaëtan is an experienced ocean sailor who has sailed much of Europe and the Caribbean. Gaëtan once raced solo across the Atlantic and inspired by the father figure of French offshore racing, Eric Tabarly, Gaëtan’s life ambition is to one day compete in the solo professional sailing race, the Vendee Globe.