The first ever Washington, DC stopover and Clipper Race Fleet Week in the US capital was sensational. Clipper Race crew certainly made the most of this brand-new stopover and everything it has to offer, from visiting the city’s famous landmarks in the National Mall to sampling the incredible restaurants and getting involved with the awesome activities put on by Events DC. Hear what the sailors had to say about the stopover here.

Once the final preparations were made on board, all eleven Clipper Race teams gathered for a huge group photo on District Pier to mark the start of the final leg of the race. Then it was time to parade to the Transit Pier, with the home team Washington, DC leading the procession to the sound of a high school marching band.

Image: All eleven teams gather for group picture on District Pier

The departure ceremony on stage kicked off with remarks from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, thanking Events DC, The Wharf and the people of DC for such a warm introduction to the city and to wish fair winds to the crew embarking on the final ocean crossing of the adventure. Sir Robin said:

"You see, this for us in the Clipper Race it is a bittersweet moment really. It's bitter because the boats which have sailed 35,000 miles in the last ten months, and their gallant crews are about to leave you after a fantastic stopover here, for which we thank you. And Angie Gates and her team at Events DC have just been great to work with and it made me feel so very welcome here.

"And slightly bitter because we're sailing, the boats are leaving, but then again we're sailors, we like to get back on the oceans. And they're about to go off across their last ocean, the last of six oceans they've crossed in the last ten months. So most of these people are now seasoned sailors, they're good, but it doesn't mean we take the Atlantic casually.

"Three and a half thousand miles away is Scotland and that's where they're heading. And the attraction of course is the whisky".

Image: Sir Robin Knox-Johnson on stage for the departures ceremony

Next up, President and CEO of Events DC, Angie Gates, took to the stage. She said: "On behalf of Events DC Board of Directors, as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Council and of course the Events DC staff. I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the incredible sailors for taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Your time this week in Washington, DC has been truly memorable. Without a doubt you have left a lasting impression on our hearts and on our great city, across all eight wards.

"Now, as you set sail for the next leg of your epic journey, we know you will face new challenges and conquer unchartered waters. Remember, the spirit of Washington, DC, a city that thrives on resilience and determination sails with you.

"Let’s give it up to Team Washington, DC – the Events DC team and the entire city will be cheering you on every step of the way. We will be following your progress closely and we cannot wait until you cross the Finish Line. You will forever, and I repeat EVER be part of the Events DC family. The race may end but we are family for life. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you fair winds, calm seas and god speed.

"I also want to take a moment to thank the entire Events DC team. I wear the title of President and CEO but I could not do this without every single member of this team. We made history y’all.

"So, as you prepare to depart, I want you to know you all have an open invitation to come back anytime. I know the race is every two years, but you can come back in two weeks! And maybe by the time two years rolls around, I may even join you on the yacht! Thank you everyone and safe travel".

Image: Events DC President and CEO Angie Gates on stage

Each Clipper Race team had a moment on stage to dance to their team song before heading to their team yacht.

Image: Crew making their way to the boats

As final briefings were completed and team photos snapped, an eclectic soundtrack by the Sounds of DC was played from the floating stage as the teams prepared to depart.

Each team slipped lines one by one as their team song played, with a very special performance from several members of Mambo Sauce and Crank Caviar, who sing the Washington, DC’s team song “Welcome to DC.”

Image: Marching band leading the team procession

Waving farewell to friends, family and locals, the eleven yachts performed a stunning Parade of Sail along the Potomac as the light faded, complete with an epic firework display and flares to send the fleet on its way up to the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, marking the end of a fantastic stopover.

Image: Parade of sail led by Washington, DC team

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