It's the final day here in Washington, DC, and after an incredible stopover in the US capital, all eyes are on the final ocean crossing of the circumnavigation and the penultimate race, Race 13: Oban Atlantic Homecoming.

Race 13 is 3,000 nautical mile racecourse, which teams will take around 16-21 days to complete, arriving in Oban from 12 July.

Famed for its unpredictable weather the North Atlantic is an ocean that still demands respect. The crew will need to be ready for anything, as low pressures and harsh conditions are not uncommon, even this time of year. Plus, with plenty of competition among the fleet, especially for the top three places, this will be a race where every team will be looking to perform at its best.

Image: First Mates in the Race 13: Oban Atlantic Homecoming briefing

We caught up with the Skippers and AQPs ahead of the race:

Ineke Van der Weijden, Perseverance Skipper: “We are in second place, followed very closely by Zhuhai in third. We want to race hard as we still want to win this. We are playing our Joker which adds a bit of stress to it, but I think we are ready. We have a good crew, all of us have a lot of energy for this next race so bring it on.

“Every single team is going to try and sail the best race they can, and what the others do is irrelevant, so I hope I can keep that clear in my head.

“Scotland is one of my most favourite places to sail on the entire planet, so I am super excited, and Oban is a cool town so I can't wait to get there.”

Joss Creswell, Perseverance AQP: “So, the conditions can be very mixed. Low-pressure systems build up in the Caribbean and make their way up the East Coast of the US, and then make their way up towards Europe. I think initially it's going to be very downwind, which we are looking forward to. It settles the new crew in nicely to sailing, gets them working as a team, and there are lots of jobs to do on deck.

“My previous job was working on a modern Tall Ship, that operated out of Oban, so it's definitely somewhere I am very familiar with, especially the Kerrera Sound that we are going to be travelling up towards Oban. It's a beautiful town and a beautiful sailing area, and I am really excited to get home.”

Nano Antia, Yacht Club Punta del Este Skipper: “Going back to the UK across the Atlantic is one of the more famous traditional routes in the world, so it's a privilege to be crossing this ocean one more time.

“The first third is really coming up around Newfoundland and getting away from the ice limits. There are sometimes good breezes around there and this time it looks like we will have a good downwind start. We might get some upwind moments until we hit the high pressure which should slingshot us all the way across. The second third is pretty much trade winds, which will be pretty straightforward, especially if no big lows are coming across. And then near the UK it can get fruity, especially near Scotland, as the low pressure starts deepening, but hopefully it will be a nice crossing.”

Angus Whitehead, Yacht Club Punta del Este AQP: “It's a monumental moment, it's awesome to be heading back into Scotland, there's a lot of family waiting, and it's exciting.”

Dan Bodey, Skipper UNICEF: "The Atlantic Ocean can have its moments. It can be nice, with good downwind conditions, which can be lovely, but we can also get these summer storms that blow in, and then you can get some short, steep waves. So, it can be just as vicious as the other oceans."

Laura Hampton, UNICEF AQP: “This race is going to be pretty monumental for us! It's our last ocean crossing. I think going under the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, and then coming up the Kerrera Sound, and seeing the caged towers is going to give us an incredible sense of achievement. There is a lot of pressure in the race standings, and it's going to be heated.

“There are two emotions about coming home, one is excitement: we’ve been sailing and we’ve been on the oceans for a long time now, and for me, the Atlantic means home waters that I like to sail on and grew up on so there's a lot of meaning in that. On the other hand, there will be a strange transition in getting back into normal life.”

Ryan Gibson, Dare To Lead Skipper: “This is one of the most important races out of the whole circumnavigation. There's so much to lose and so much to gain, so it is really important. The crew is feeling good, so we are just going to try and do the best we can.

“The conditions are not to be underestimated, it's still the North Atlantic. We will have a bit of a light wind start and it’s looking a bit patchy. There is the current, where you must decide or go further north and avoid it. There's a big high-pressure system in the middle, and then as you get closer to the UK, you normally have the big low pressure, so the weather should get cooler as we go across, which will be nice. We should have some quite fast, good sailing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Image: Race route

Charlie Warhurst, Dare To Lead AQP: “There's always pressure to do well. We haven't been racing slowly, so we just need to keep the energy we have and keep it going.

“It will be really good to get back into UK waters. I’ve never been to Oban before, but I have all my family coming up and I think it's going to be quite a fun stopover.”

Bob Beggs, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper: “Being at the top of the leader board is an incredible place to be and we are 14 points ahead so that means we are in a strong place. But it is so easy to let the guard down, so we need to be on it as a team, and really do our best to continue to stay at the top.”

Cameron McCracken, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam AQP: “We have both crossed the Atlantic a few times before, and it can throw up a mixed bag. It looks like a downwind start, but generally, we are just looking forward to sailing with the crew and trying to enjoy the last big ocean crossing.”

Max Rivers, Our Isles and Oceans Skipper: “I am super excited to be going to Oban, it's our Home Port, and we are excited to see a number of family and friends there. We’ve got a Ceilidh happening; on 19 July – get your tickets booked! It's going to be a really fantastic race, followed by a really awesome stopover.

“Then we are back in the UK with the Great British Pound. We've had a really good race, currently mid-table, and we are keen to hold on to that. If not try and gain at least one spot on the fleet. We need to fight off Yacht Club Punta del Este and make sure they don't overtake us. We want to make the most of it and make the crew proud of the effort they've put in.”

Tom Newsom, Our Isles and Oceans AQP:

“I’m really stoked for Oban; it's going to be a reunion. A lot of people who have done the previous legs are going to be there, and it should be a big party. There are four Jokers being played on this race so it will be worth pushing to upset a few people.”

“About two years ago I did SKIRR and went up to Greenland, and we saw the boats crossing as we were heading to Iceland, and it is really nice to know that the SKIRR boats are going to be there in Oban again this time.”

James Finney, Zhuhai Skipper: “I’m excited to get on with it. It will be really cool to have this race go down to the wire! It's going to be a super tight finish. So, it's game on!

We just need to race our own race and pretend the others aren't there. This is a fast downwind leg which is really good when it comes to kites.We’ve always been one of the fastest boats there, and it's a good distance that if things go tactically wrong, we can recover from it, so it made sense to play the Joker.”

Mike Davies, Zhuhai AQP: “It's a good feeling to potentially finish in the top three. James and I discussed in Portsmouth eleven months ago, that we should ‘aim for the top five'. So, top three, we are excited, happy, and it’s nice to know we are doing a good job. We have a happy team which is also really important.”

David Hartshorn, Bekezela Skipper: “It's come up really quickly. I knew it would, but once we left Seattle everything went into super-fast time.

“This race we could be out there for a fortnight, but time is going to go really quickly. This generally tends to be quite a fast race, with the Atlantic pressure, but it can change. I've experienced extremes in the past; we’ve left New York, and within four to five days people had been digging out their dry suits because it was freezing. The last time I did it, we were in shorts and t-shirts out of Derry-Londonderry, so you really can't judge it, or underestimate it, this is still a major ocean crossing, and safety has to be at the top of the list.”

Image: Race Crew on board Bekezela

Masie Bristow, Bekezela AQP: “It's definitely catching up now, that it's going to be very soon until we are back in Portsmouth. I think this race is going to be good, I think the crew will enjoy it. We haven't really had anything that fast throughout the race. We've had quite nice conditions, I'm thinking, we might get big conditions I think it will be exciting for them to have a high-paced, higher-pressured race.”

Hannah Brewis, Washington, DC Skipper: “It’s crazy that this is the last ocean crossing, not to be taken lightly at all. It's still a big old ocean, the Atlantic. So, I think we won't process it until the end when we cross the line.

“We always take each race as it comes, but we feel there is an element of potential here to get a podium because I actually feel the least amount of pressure that I've felt the entire race. Both Ella and I have done the Atlantic, and I’ve done it many times. We’ve got a bit of a buffer from Bekezela. We’ve played our Joker, we’ve come into our Home Port, and now we are just generally going for a sail, which I think means we will have better outcomes. We aren't putting the pressure on ourselves because I don't want that to overtake the feeling of the success of crossing an ocean.”

Ella Hebron, Washington, DC AQP: “With the North Atlantic you can get all sorts of weather conditions, as on the other oceans, but this can be renowned to get lows flying through so it's not to be taken lightly.”

Image: AQP Ella Hebron on the bow

Philip Quinn, Qingdao Skipper: “We decided to play our Joker, the reason being this is a longer race, so if we mess up somewhere along the line, it gives us a better chance to fix whatever it is we’ve done. With shorter races, it gives us less opportunities.

“Looking at the weather for a minute, it looks like it could be quite good, however, there is nothing to say there won't be deep lows with big winds and big seas, so there is plenty that can come. Given where we are sitting, we aren't thinking about podiums, if it happens it happens and that'sall well and good.”

Henry Hallatt, Qingdao AQP: “We have a nice long ocean crossing with lots of changeable weather, so it should be a good opportunity for good routing and good plans. I don't feel too much pressure, as we are not that close to the podium where we need to, or have to get it, we just need to keep doing what we are doing and see what comes our way.”

Mike Miller, PSP Logistics Skipper: “I’m super excited about this. It's still a challenge, it can get really stormy, and everyone is going to be going really fast, so you can't take your foot off the gas at any time, otherwise, you're going to be 100 miles behind. So, you have to work hard but keep everyone safe.

“This should be mostly downwind sailing, but some huge storms come across the Atlantic this time of year, so if we got caught with one of those, we could see gale force winds, huge 30 – 40 foot waves, that could be really tough, or it could be absolute screaming surfing with big waves, big winds and just really good fun, which is what the Clipper Race and sailing on these Clipper Race yachts is all about.”

Lottie Wade, PSP Logistics AQP: “It feels a bit surreal; I am really excited to get going across the North Atlantic and get back to the UK, but we’ve had an amazing time. Mike has taught me so much, and I'm just so happy.”

On 25 June, the fleet will depart from The Wharf, marking the beginning of the final Leg of the circumnavigation.

The fleet will pass under the iconic Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge at 2200 local time. From there, it will sail and motor onward, gearing up for the last Le Mans Start on 27 June at 0900 local time.

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