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

All twelve 70-foot ocean racing yachts slipped lines this morning, 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, UK, will be completing the full circumnavigation on Liverpool 2018 and says: “We’ve been working hard to get the boat ready.

“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.”

What makes the Clipper Race unique is that it is raced by non-professional sailors from all walks of life. Pip O’Sullivan from Ramsdell, Hampshire, UK, had never sailed before the four levels of Clipper Race training, but will now race around the world with GREAT Britain.

“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.

“I think GREAT Britain is looking really good ahead of Race Start. We bonded really well over the last few weeks, we’ve got as many jobs as possible done and I think we are really keen to get going now.”

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.

“It’s going to be really special arriving at Albert Dock in Liverpool and also when we start the race on the Mersey,” says Tanya Holbrook, a 31 year old designer from Wiltshire, UK who will be doing the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1 and South Atlantic Leg 2, on Qingdao.

“Race Start has been a long time coming so really excited to finally be on our way.”

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.

“It’s going to be my first time in Liverpool so I’m really looking forward to it,” says Nqoba Mswazi, a 25 year old student from South Africa who took part in the Clipper 2013-14 Race as a Sapinda Rainbow Project Ambassador and is now returning for the opening two legs on Dare To Lead.

“I’ve never done the opening leg before so it’s going to be nice leaving on the start day and seeing how the crowd treats us.”

The Clipper Race Village in Liverpool will be a hub of entertainment and activity for each of the six days leading up to Race Start on Sunday 20 August. There will be opportunities for members of the public to get up close and personal with the teams during open boat tours, past crew will be on hand in the Clipper Race Dome to talk about what it really takes to be an ocean racer, while our Official Race Partners and Suppliers will be putting on demonstrations and exhibitions.

For more information about the Clipper Race Village at Albert Dock and Race Start, please visit the Key Dates section of the Clipper Race website.

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 thirteen stopover ports on six continents, the fleet will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock for Race Finish on Saturday 28 July 2018, where one of the twelve teams will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.

Want to be a part of it all? There are still limited opportunities to take part in the Asia Pacific Leg 5 and Mighty Pacific Leg 6, and applications are also open for the Clipper 2019-20 Race. If you think you have what it takes to race across the world’s oceans, visit the Clipper Race website to apply. Or you can enquire about attending one of the Crew Presentations taking part at the Clipper Race Village in the week leading up to Race Start in Liverpool.

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