See ya Seattle, next stop Panama

04 May 2024

Seattle bids farewell to the Clipper Race fleet as it departs for the start of Race 11: #StayConnected with SENA. With 4,200nm of racing ahead down the west coast of North America to Panama, crowds came out to support the eleven teams as they embark on the first race of Leg 7: The US Coast-to-Coast Leg.

Image: Fleet leaving Seattle

The Seattle stopover saw one of the biggest crew changeovers of the edition, as the circumnavigation progresses into its final quarter. With yachts seeing a turnover of nearly all their leggers, there was a buzz of fresh faced crew, excited and ready to join the rest of their teammates rejuvenated after an incredible stopover in Washington state.

One of the many new joiners, Alan Thompson, who has joined Zhuhai for Legs 7 and 8 is excited to start. He says: “Not feeling 100% prepared but probably never would be! Just itching to get going now, really excited about all the things I am going to see and the relationships I am going to build with the crew.

“The word I keep hearing from other people that have done this is relentless, the watch systems, lack of sleep and all the things that are hard work. I think I will become a stronger person, finding levels of resilience I haven't had to tap into before.”

Donning their Musto Team Kit for the first time, it was a perfect opportunity, with the city skyline as the backdrop to mark the occasion with an incredible all crew photo. Before making their way from a huge crew photo overlooking the waterfront, down to the docks, the teams paraded through the supporters lining the waterfront to step on board their yacht, soaking in their last moments on land in the sunshine for what could be up to three and a half weeks at sea.

Image: Supporters on the pontoon waving off their teams

The crew were joined on the dockside by representatives of the Seattle Sports Commission, whose continued support has brought the Clipper Race to the city for four editions.

On the upcoming race, Qingdao Ambassador and circumnavigator Ziqi Wang said: “Honestly we are three quarters of the way around the world, but I don’t believe it. I still remember when we left Portsmouth, everything feels like yesterday and now we are almost back, but there is still plenty of adventure ahead.

“Everyone is feeling really happy and the spirits are definitely high on board Qingdao. We would love to win the next race but it’s not that easy. The weather is going to be quite dynamic so anything can happen. We will keep on pushing the boat but staying safe and we will see how it goes.”

Image: Qingdao departing Seattle- Ziqi on the right

First to slip was Perseverance, leading the fleet out into the bay and Puget Sound, for the Parade of Sail. Three Ambassadors joined the Perseverance team for this leg. One of the new Ambassadors, Maaike de Boer said: “I feel really good, totally ready for it, I just want to start right now.

“I am looking forward to a warm leg, we have a great crew, everyone is really nice and I think I will learn a lot from them. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will enjoy it as much as i can, because you never know when it all ends and you have to get as much out of life as possible.”

Image: Ambassadors Laura, Maaike and Marleen

Fellow crew member Jade Golder who is sailing around the world on Perseverance said: We have a lot of new joiners, which is going to be interesting and I am Watch Leader which I am looking forward to; we have a really great group. It's going to be more relaxed compared to the last race, plus it's going to be warm, which I am looking forward to.”

The Perseverance team are also at the top of the leaderboard. On this, Jade said: “We will work really hard. The pressure is starting to get to all of us now, we have probably realised we haven't been trying as hard as we should have been doing, but we can do better i think. So we will be working really hard on this one, and hopefully do well. I think because we know the win is within reach, then it's going to push us harder. When we first started this I didn’t even imagine in my wildest dreams that we could possibly be first, but now it's within reach so we are going to go for it.”

Image: Vibrant departures

With the sunlight glistening on both the city skyscrapers to the east and the surrounding mountains, the fleet joined by the Seattle Fire Department Fireboat for a water salute arch- a great spectacle for those on quayside.

Image: Water salute for the fleet

It was then time for the fleet to progress out of the Puget Sound making its way to the muster point for the Race 11 Le Mans start which will take place on 5 May 2024 at 0000 UTC, under the supervision of Lead Skipper, James Finney of Zhuhai.

Image: Fleet leaving Seattle

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