Hundreds of Clipper crew will spend the next few days preparing in London before embarking on their round-the-world adventure
The Clipper 2015-16 Race fleet arrived at St Katharine Docks on Thursday, parading up the Thames before entering central London’s only marina in front of the iconic Tower Bridge.
The tenth edition of the Clipper Race kicks off in just 10 days time and will take 11 months to cover 40,000 nautical miles in a series of 14 races between six continents.
Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “They’re going to go through some of the calmest waters in the world and some of the roughest waters in the world. In fact the roughest waters in the world. They’ll meet winds from every single direction – hopefully good ones so they can go fast but they will have to learn to sail with whatever winds are available to them.
“The thing that everyone learns is that sailing is a great lesson in patience, plus the stubborn tenacity needed when you’re beating into a snow blizzard and you know you have to keep that boat going until it’s your turn to be relieved.”
Nearly half of the 700 crew, representing 44 nationalities, from all walks of life, had never sailed before undergoing their extensive pre-race training. The youngest is 18 and the oldest is 74. 35 per cent are women.
“When you take people who have never sailed before you have to train them, you can’t just put them on a boat and say ‘cross an ocean’ – that’s totally irresponsible. They have to be trained and made safe on a boat. So every one of these crew have had a minimum of four weeks training with us in a carefully planned programme which is constantly developed from what we’ve learned in previous races, to encourage the crew to learn more about what they’re taking on.
“No one should go to sea unaware of the risks and the dangers and how to look after themselves. We hammer that home the whole time. They’re heading out on a 40,000 nautical mile odyssey,” added Sir Robin.
This year’s crew will follow in the footsteps of more than 3,300 people who have taken on some of the world’s toughest oceans in this unique global challenge since its inaugural race in 1996.
A full circumnavigation is still a rare achievement, with more people having climbed Mount Everest than have sailed around the planet.