Female Skippers Come out on Top in First Major Test
03 July 2017
Wendy, who is about to embark on her second circumnavigation as a Clipper Race skipper, was first in the Clipper Class in Saturday’s famous Round the Island Race, closely followed across the line by Nikki.
More than 1,300 boats and around 15,000 sailors took part in the one day, 50 nautical mile yacht race around the Isle of Weight on the south coast of England. All twelve of the Clipper 70-foot yachts, as well as two of the 68-foot boats, were taking part. But rather than having their Clipper Race crew on board, the Clipper Race Skippers were all racing with teams made up of employees and guests from a variety of corporations, including JP Morgan and Barclays.
After an early start of 0300, it was time for the race to get underway, and Wendy, on board Sanya Serenity Coast, didn’t waste any time in laying the foundations for her win, getting off to a great start after Eve Branson, British philanthropist and mother of Richard Branson, fired the starting gun at the Royal Yacht Squadron start line.
“We had a great start choosing to start a little further north along the line, which enabled us to sail with slightly eased sheets,” says Wendy.
“Unicef started further South on the line with better tide, but we were on a faster point of sail and got in front of them.
“We took a very wide course at the needles so the closer boats caught up. At St Catherine’s Point, CV25 really had caught up to be within four or five boat lengths, so I was pretty nervous they would carry on be faster down wind and overhaul us.
“Thankfully, we managed to hold them off and able to come up on the breeze and take off again.”
Nikki, Skipper of Visit Seattle, made up some serious ground in the second half of the leg to take second place.
“Down the south of the island we had Unicef and CV25 close on our tail after taking them over at the Needles,” says Nikki.
“CV25 swept inshore of us in less tide and screamed ahead, and Unicef sailed a beautiful close reach up to Bembridge Ledge and pipped us at that mark. Then in fourth, we had some serious catching up to do. We overhauled them beating back up the Solent with some good tacking in the shallower water.”
Wendy and Sanya Serenity Coast completed the race in 06:54:17, to be 50th overall. Nikki and Visit Seattle crossed the line just six minutes and four seconds later to be 57th.
“It’s awesome to have both female Skippers on the podium,” says Nikki.
“Wendo is such a fantastic skipper – someone that we all look up to.”
Wendy was just as happy for Nikki, saying: “It was really cool that the women got first and second.
“It really was our day and Nikki did an amazing job to get up there and overtake boats once in the Solent close to the finish. She never stops trying and working hard.”
It was also an impressive day out for the rest of the Clipper Race Skippers. Only 16 minutes and 49 seconds separated Wendy from the fifth placed Tristan Brooks, the skipper of Unicef. The tide was against the second half of the fleet, but all twelve Clipper 70s finished in the top third of all entries.
There will be little time for the Skippers to rest before the second Level 4 Training gets underway in Gosport this week. But now with less than 50 days remaining until Race Start in Liverpool,
“This weekend wet our appetite I think,” says Nikki.
“We are feeling super excited to get going, but there is a lot of work to do in the meantime!”
Want to join in the adventure with our Skippers? There are still limited places available for the Clipper 2017-18 Race, which begins in Liverpool on Sunday 20 August, and applications are now open for the 2019-20 edition. If you think you have what it takes to race 40,000 nautical miles across the world’s oceans, then apply here.
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