​Next stop Seattle: Americans sail home across mighty North Pacific Ocean

18 April 2024

25 Americans are battling the elements in the North Pacific Ocean as they sail over 5,500nm from Qingdao, China to Seattle, USA on the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race. And they ‘wouldn’t want to be anywhere else’.

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Dicesare, a 29 year old consultant from Boston, is travelling home the hard way. Liz is sailing around the world on board Washington DC, led by skipper Hannah Brewis. Having already sailed over half way round the world, sailing into the US is a major milestone for her and many on board. There is a lot of ocean ahead though.

Image: Liz Dicesare sails the North Pacific on board Washington, DC

Liz said from on board: “Doing this is a big accomplishment in itself, to sail the North Pacific. Just to do this race, just to sail this ocean, it's huge. It will be hard, big waves, big weather, cold, windy but also to end it in the United States is another feeling, like a turning point in the circumnavigation.

“You get used to the cold, lots of layers, hot drinks, hand warmers, do whatever you can to stay warm. You manage through it and adapt to the conditions you are in and really it's great sailing, great fun and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”

Steve Depew, a 63 year-old Engineer from Burien, Washington is heading back to his home state. From on board team yacht Zhuhai he reports: “Crossing the North Pacific on Leg 6 of the Clipper Race is challenging, but the thing that makes it worthwhile and bearable is the crew that you are sailing with. For me, the ocean is beautiful both when it's calm and when it's rough. Now that we are more then half way across I know that myself and everyone on board is excited to come into Seattle.

“Coming into Seattle for me is a really big plus, I get to sleep in my own bed for a week or more.”

Image: Steve Depew helming on the North Pacific on board Zhuhai

The North Pacific Ocean is one of the most inhospitable environments on earth and is known as ‘The Big One’ due to its extreme weather, freezing temperatures, tumultuous seas and remoteness. It is devoid of land mass and at certain points, the closest other humans are astronauts on the International Space Station.

For Tyson Stellrecht, a 41-year-old marine electronics technician from Oregan, who joined Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, in Cape Town, South Africa, couldn’t wait for all this and more. He said: “Conditions can’t be big enough. The Southern Ocean was kind of tame and I'm hoping for some chaos; honestly, that’s why I did this race. I am hoping to see 100 knots [wind speed] at some point.”

Image: Tyson on board Ha Long Bay, Viet Name with crew mates

For Minnesotan Benjamin Sakhitab, a 37 year old director at an investment company, who has already sailed across the Atlantic on Leg 1, facing the heat on board his team yacht UNICEF, he returns for Leg 6 to ride it out in the cold. On departure from the sailing city of Qingdao he said: “I think it's going to be an incredible race, I think we are going to see everything. Mostly cold, strong winds, a bit of tactics coming round Japan, then really fast downwind sailing so super excited. We have a great crew, great team so I'm really looking forward to a fun race.”

Image: Ben (left) in sailing action on board UNICEF

Sailing back home to the US adds something extra special to this already intense ocean crossing, Benjamin adds: “It's going to be fantastic to raise the US flag, we have been blessed to see a bunch of different countries, from Uruguay, to China but to bring it home to the US is going to be phenomenal.”

The fleet is expected to arrive in Bell Harbour Marina, Seattle between 21-26 April. Read the Crew Diaries and Skipper Blogs for the latest from on board and track the fleet’s progress on the Race Viewer.

Join The Race