“This has been a life-changing journey” - Skippers reflect as race ends

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Skippers and crew members are reflecting on the end of their round the world voyage as they parade up the River Thames having completed the 40,000 mile circumnavigation last night. 

The boats finished Race 16 off the UK coast last night at Southend and are now on their way upstream for a parade ending by Tower Bridge ahead of the official prizegiving in St Katharine Docks.

Eric Holden, skipper of overall winning boat Henri Lloyd, said: "We crossed the finish line off Southend in second place in Race 16, drawing a close to this round the world journey, at 2055 local time Friday. The whole team had a hand on the wheels as we drove across the line, as we all put in a huge effort in getting us here.

"The North Sea lived up to it's rough choppy nature and although we had no pressure in this race we still pushed for a final leg podium finish, getting second into Southend. Well done to GREAT Britain for winning into its home port."

Henri Lloyd crew member Meg Reilly said: "This year has been a test of will and determination, finding our individual limits and pushing beyond them.  At the beginning of this journey, our skipper Eric built this team on a foundation of respect; and that's why we are a happy boat who ultimately became round the world race champions.  We've learned more this year about ourselves and human nature than we ever will.  The sailing part was just an extra bonus." 

Simon Talbot, skipper of GREAT Britain, which finishes in second place on the podium overall and won Race 16 last night, said his team was absolutely over the moon with its achievement both in the race to London and the overall race.

"Winning Race 16 fulfils our goal of becoming the most decorated boat in the fleet with six first and five second places meaning that every single crew member of Team GREAT Britain walks away from the race having had at least one podium position on their leg. This is an absolutely amazing achievement and one that all of the team are very proud of and will remember for a long time to come. 

"Watching my team grow over the last 11 months has been as much of an amazing journey as the race itself and the whole team can be incredibly proud of their achievements and for me it has been an honour to be their Skipper. 

"For me, being a London boy and representing GREAT Britain, winning our homecoming leg into London firmly places the cherry on the top of my metaphorical race cake. I dreamt the race would end this way and for once my dream has come true!"

Olly Cotterell, skipper of OneDLL, held off rival Derry~Londonderry~Doire and secured the third podium position over the Northern Irish entry, coming in in third in Race 16. Derry~Londonderry~Doire finishes in fourth overall.

Olly said: "Luck is a product of sweat and as a result we have been rewarded with a podium this race, securing our podium overall. I am phenomenally proud of my team.

"Today is going to be an emotional day for all concerned, as we come back to the warm embrace of our families and the magnitude of our achievement starts to sink in. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible tonight for celebrations."

Switzerland finished in fifth place overall on the leaderboard. Skipper Vicky Ellis said for the round the world crew members onboard it was a moment of great celebration to cross the final finish line last night.

"The circle has been completed and our outgoing track crossed, eight of us are now carry the title of circumnavigators! 

"Getting the whole crew around the world and back to London in one piece is probably one of my greatest achievements but it's been the biggest pleasure too."

Patrick van der Zijden, skipper of Old Pulteney, which finished sixth overall, said it had been an intense year with massive memory impact that will stay with him for a very long time.

"I will never forget all the seas we sailed, all the ports we visited and all the people we met. It is an achievement we are proud of. Thank you all for supporting us around the world and if you are there this weekend, see you in St Katharine Docks!"

Chris Hollis, skipper of PSP Logistics, which finished in ninth overall, said the last day of racing was one of the most demanding races of the series.

"The crew worked extremely hard with some very smart sailing in the tide to get back into contention for sixth place. We had a great tussle with Old Pulteney the whole day. As we came into the Kings Channel there were five were boats in a cluster. We defended hard until the end, however Team Garmin and Old Pulteney had superior speed in the dying breeze and just got us.... when I mean just got us, Old Pulteney beat us by 10 seconds!

"It has been one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs of my career. At the beginning, people try to tell you about it and what to expect, but until you do it, you just dont know. All I can say is, "Expect the unexpected, go with it, and  have fun".

Rich Gould skipper of Invest Africa, which finished in eleventh overall, said: "Sailing up the Thames estuary last night we crossed our outbound track. Closed the loop, tied the knot, completed the lap, what ever you want to call it.  At 51.31.971N 000.59.303E myself along with Carolus, Pete, Simon, Craig, Frulie, Helen and Natalia - became circumnavigators.  With a big cheer of INVEST AFRICAAAAA we had some pictures taken with all around the helm and the guys got a little something from me.

"What an amazing 11 months. So for the very last time I guess all that is left for me to say is.......Invest Africa OUT!"

The final skipper reports and comments will be uploaded when they are received from the boats.

The final race standings can be viewed here.