After a tough Race 1 and some well-earned rest in Puerto Sherry, Race 2: Hundred Years Cup is now underway. A 5,300nm battle across the Atlantic ocean to Punta del Este, the eleven teams will face a whole range of conditions as they make the first ocean crossing of the Clipper 2023-24 Race.

The first race and stopover provided a chance for nerves to be shaken off, sea legs found, and focus honed. We spoke to the Skippers and AQPs ahead of departure:

Race Skipper Ineke Van Der Weijden, who led Race 1’s winning team Perseverance said: “The first race was extraordinary! This race will be very different- it's around 30 days instead of seven days, we are going through every single weather pattern pretty much on the planet so it's going to be a long one, and very tactical at times. The crew are super excited- having a win motivates people a lot, and they are excited to see what a long crossing is like now.”

Image: Perseverance team departure

AQP Joss Creswell added: “I feel like the whole team is very excited to try and defend this lead- there are some hungry boats looking to take that podium off us! We’ll be trying our hardest.”

Currently at the top of the Race Leaderboard is Yacht Club Punta del Este, having placed second and gaining three extra points at the Scoring Gate. The team will be sailing into its home port of Punta del Este after Race 2, which Skipper Nano Antia says is "super special.” On setting sail for his hometown, Nano said: “To be representing the Club in this race, on a yacht branded with the name of my hometown is amazing. Sailing there knowing that my family are going to be there, it’s really emotional. Even just thinking about it gets me a little bit emotional!

Image: Yacht Club Punta del Este team

“This is one of the most challenging races, because we go through mostly every condition that the ocean can serve up. It’s going to be super tactical. The motivation of going to Punta del Este is just going to be a boost of energy- it is going to be amazing.”

Image: Yacht Club Punta del Este Skipper Nano Antia Bernardez

Race 1 threw all kinds of challenges at the fleet, so on this race, all of the teams are looking to build on their results and climb up the leaderboard.

Ryan Gibson, Dare To Lead Skipper said: “Race 1 wasn’t the result we wanted, but it’s a start. For this next one we want to get top five, but most importantly everyone getting out of this race what they want. It’s a much longer race so we do need to keep the pace.”

Image: Ryan Gibson

AQP Charlie Warhurst added: “The crew were a little nervous to start with on Race 1, but their confidence grew, and the team spirit really shone through. Weather wise on this one it’ll be a light start, then downwind for the next few days after that so some nice sleigh rides, I hope! The Scoring Gate is about 300nm east of the Rhumb Line, so it will be an interesting one to watch.”

Skipper on Washington DC, Hannah Brewis said: “Seventh on the last race gives us a lot of motivation to improve. We are definitely pumped up for the next race! We know what we are doing well, and what to do better.”

Her AQP Cameron McCracken adds: “There’s six teams in front of us to beat on this one! On the last race, seeing the crew evolve into a much more organic machine- they definitely improved their skills and look a lot more confident. I think the evolution of the crew on the first race really stands us in good stead for the next one.”

Delving into the conditions to come on the second race, Skipper of Zhuhai James Finney, who is on his second Clipper Race circumnavigation said: “On this race we have a whole host of conditions. We’ll start with some nice Trade wind, sailing down to the inter-tropical convergence zone. Then we have the Doldrums Corridor which is a unique thing for the Clipper Race, essentially allowing us to motor for 6 degrees of latitude to transit the Doldrums as efficiently as possible. It doubles up as being a massive tactical moment in the race, it’s a really big one where you can make huge gains or losses depending on how you play that. So that’s an exciting feature! Then you can go from 0-70 knots just like that- the last time I did this race, we ripped our mainsail pretty much in half.”

AQP on Our Isles and Oceans, Tom Newsom, continues: “There are a couple of intricacies to this race: having to choose which side of the Canaries and Cape Verde to take being the first challenge- they are big islands so create a lot of wind shadow. Then there’s the Doldrums- recently they have been pretty unsettled with some big hurricanes coming through. Then on to the South Atlantic- it's very dynamic, there are some big weather systems that come off the South American coast, you have to be on your toes.”

Image: Clipper Race AQPs

Max Rivers, Skipper on Our Isles and Oceans said: “The crew is incredibly fired up for Race 2! It’s the first Equator crossing and the first ocean crossing for the crew, it’s going to be a race of all sorts!”

The second race of the circumnavigation will see the eleven teams cross the Equator, a huge achievement for the sailors but one that requires a visit from King Neptune! Skipper of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Josh Stickland says: “It’s a rite of passage for sailors! So, we have a few things planned for the crew.”

UNICEF Skipper Dan Bodey said: It’s the first ocean crossing and crossing of the Equator which have a big tradition in sailing: transitioning from polliwogs into shellbacks, so it’s going to be a lot of fun during this ceremony.”

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