​Seattle Alumni crew welcome fleet to city

15 April 2016

“As the Clipper Race fleet makes its way to Seattle across the gruelling North Pacific, it gives me a chance to re-live the glory days of circumnavigating and winning the Clipper 2007-08 Race,” says Gary Purdom, one of four Seattle-based Alumni crew reflecting on their race achievements as they begin to showcase Seattle to the crew currently arriving onto their shores.

He said: “Each of the many Clipper Race Alumni has his or her own story about how their lives changed. For me, my return home to the Pacific North-West was quiet and reflective. Over a few months, I came to realize my past identity had disappeared.

“Family and friends referred to me as ‘sailor’, ‘adventurer, ‘circumnavigator’, even ‘winner’. My best friend confided that I was the guy that inspired him and others (including my own children) to pursue their dreams. I had previously been ‘the insurance guy’. My grandkids don’t know the insurance guy. But they do say they know the world is round because ‘papa sailed around the world’.”

Gary, from Bainbridge Island circumnavigated and won with his team New York in the Clipper 2007-08 Race. He is excited to welcome the fleet into Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina, Pier 66 for the first time at the end of the Mighty Pacific race from China.

“My true excitement is knowing that the Seattle stopover brings a new experience to the adventure-loving people of a great city.

“The Clipper Race and Seattle are a great match. The curious will come to the docks, see the boats, talk to crew, and hear the stories. There will be that moment for someone when a dream turns into action. A crew application will be completed and a life will change. For the better,” Gary added.

Gordon Ritchie, from Spokane, competed in the Clipper 2005-06 Race on board Victoria. He said: “The highs and lows of our race in 2005-6 created bonds, shared experiences and connections that will last a lifetime.

“The Pacific North-West will welcome all souls with warmth and hospitality. But even having seen the mountains, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound are still a healthy sail to Seattle.

“To be dockside and supporting the boats in Seattle is a fantastic sight. The fleet is impressive together but has to be seen up close and personal to get an experience of the real size of a single boat and hear stories of how small, isolated and fragile they feel in the middle of an ocean.

“The current race was always going to be a special one for me for many reasons. With a friend on board Garmin, and the homecoming boat, Visit Seattle where I have lived for the last 15 years, I am following this race closely,” Gordon added.

Maura Rowell, from Seattle competed on board winning Clipper 2013-14 Race team, Henri Lloyd. She said the race was the best experience of her life.

“I have an adventurous spirit and love pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The race looked like a great way to meet interesting people and see beautiful places. It turned out to be the best experience of my life.

“The race made me excited to keep meeting new people back in Seattle and to keep searching for new adventures. My teammates will be friends for life and I look forward to every opportunity to see them,” Maura added.

John Xu (pictured above), is also based in the Emerald City and competed against Maura in the Clipper 2013-14 Race on board Qingdao, sailing from Australia to China via Singapore. He said it was very exciting that Seattle is acting as a Host Port and also has a namesake team entry in this year’s race.

“Seattle has an amazing sailing community full of great people, skilful sailors and fast boats. I hope that this inspires sailors to go and explore and adventure and to understand the risks and the rewards that sailing - and especially racing - brings.

“To someone thinking about visiting the fleet I would say to take advantage of seeing the amazing teams passionately crewed by people just like them,” John adds.

If you would like to meet some of the local crew to discover more about their race and step on board the fleet for a free open boat tour visit the Race Village from 22- 28 April.

For more information on the Seattle stopover and some of the events planned, click here.

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