Clipper Race Skippers’ Thoughts Ahead of the Final Leg

24 June 2018

As crew kit is loaded and provisions are stored away on board each of the eleven Clipper Race team yachts ahead of Race 12: LegenDerry Race from New York to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Fleet Prep Day is well and truly upon us here in NYC.

With just under 4,000nm and the sixth and final ocean crossing laying between here and Race Finish in Liverpool on 28 July, we caught up with the Clipper Race Skippers to hear their thoughts ahead of the final leg of the circumnavigation.

For Wendy Tuck, Skipper of Sanya Serenity Coast, Leg 8 brings about a fair amount of pressure to stay at the top of the overall leaderboard but the Australian is taking it in her stride. She says: “Some of the team has been sailing with me since August last year so it will be really good fun and although it’s super important to race as hard as possible to retain the lead, I am looking forward to the last ocean race, but itIwill be kind of sad to think it is the last one.”

The pressure to perform well is also on for the PSP Logistics and Unicef teams which have elected to play their Joker Cards for Race 12. Speaking about the decision, PSP Logistics Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “We are all very motivated to do well, having played the Joker and it should be a good one.The Atlantic can throw anything at us so it will be an interesting race.”

Hot on the team’s heels will be Bob Beggs and his Unicef crew. This will be Bob’s 20th transatlantic crossing and his wealth of experience could put the team in good stead for a successful race. Speaking after the Skipper Briefing session, Bob explains: “We played our Joker for this race as this is a stretch I have sailed regularly and I know the currents quite well but it is also good for focus at the end of the race.

“There will be a great departure here in New York and it will be a great welcome into Derry-Londonderry and lots of good sailing in the middle.”

Visit Seattle, which is sitting at third on the overall leaderboard, and is the only team yet to have played its Joker, is looking for a fast race to scoop as many points as possible. Speaking ahead of race start, Skipper Nikki Henderson says: “We have to do well on these next two races if we want to get a podium overall so that’s where the focus is.”

On overall podium success, Nikki adds: “I have imagined getting a podium for the team but also to have two female skippers on the podium would be an absolutely amazing thing to happen for the industry and for the sport. It would be ground-breaking.”

Elsewhere, Dave Hartshorn, Skipper of GREAT Britain, is hoping that the team’s double back-to-back podium results in Leg 7 will give a boost going into this final race. He comments: “I am really looking forward to this. The team is really focused at the moment coming out of Leg 7 where we had our best performance so we are really looking forward to it.

“The team was in its element during Prize Giving night here in New York when it became a GREAT Britain prize giving evening as we were up on stage so much. They have a taste for it now and you can see, even just during the prep we were doing this morning, the buzz on the boat was amazing.”

It will be a special race for Skipper Conall Morrison who will be leading his team into his home port of Derry. He says: “It is very exciting to be heading towards my hometown from the Big Apple. Lots of the other skippers have done this route but I am really looking forward to the welcome home from friends and family. I think there might be a boat or two out to greet the team. It will be a brilliant stopover.”

Dare To Lead Skipper Dale Smyth is also looking forward to getting back out on the ocean after the stopover in the Big Apple. He comments: “New York has been crazy and busy - a really good stopover. It has been iconic to sail with these skylines and I am also looking forward to Derry-Londonderry.”

Looking to defend his team’s second place overall position, Qingdao Skipper Chirs Kobusch has some pressure to stay ahead of nearest competition, Visit Seattle, which is four points behind. He says: “We have to stay ahead of Visit Seattle and we also need to watch PSP Logistics which is playing its Joker Card. Sanya Serenity Coast has a pretty big lead at the moment so the main focus is on the teams behind.

“In previous races we’ve always done better on ocean races than coastal racing so I am hoping to do well.”

After two coastal races, Garmin Skipper Gaetan Thomas is looking forward to the Atlantic crossing, saying: "I'm more of an ocean race, I do prefer to be far away from land, playing with big systems. I cant believe it's the last ocean crossing.

"I know the Atlantic can be pretty tough; you can have wind holes and also can experience big systems. And we've had quite a big crew changeover for Leg 8 so there will be a lot of coaching and teaching during this race so we will just do the best we can."

Liverpool 2018 will be giving its all on Race 12. Skipper Lance Shepherd shares his thoughts: “We had a few problems on the last race but we weren’t pushing as hard as we can do so we will be pushing hard for this one.”

“I prefer coastal races as they are more tactical with currents but I am looking forward to a big ocean race.”

Nasdaq’s Rob Graham is also thinking ahead to the race and says: “We have a decent weather forecast for the North Atlantic Race. It’s an ocean race and anything can happen. We have some new joiners. We seem to have been at sea for ages yet it has come around quickly at the same time.”

Watch out on the Clipper Race: LIVE Facebook page to see the teams slip their lines off the dock ahead of Race 12 start on Monday 25 June 2018 from 0900 local time (1400 UTC/15:00 BST).

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