Skipper Thoughts ahead of Race 1

31 August 2019

The Clipper 2019-20 Race Skippers have had their penultimate meeting ahead of the Race Departure ceremony from St. Katharine Docks, London tomorrow afternoon.

After a busy week of naming ceremonies, public activations and final preparations on board, we caught up with them to reflect on what lays ahead.

For many of the crew and Skippers, getting to this point has been years in the making. Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper, Josh Stickland, said: “It has been a long time coming; myself and my crew are ready to get racing!”

Shadowing Josh’s remarks Mike Surridge, Skipper of Imagine your Korea, said: “I am feeling really confident, we have done loads of preparation, the boat is feeling good, crew are a little bit nervous, of course, but we are ready to go.”

For Nick Leggatt, Skipper of the debut entry Zhuhai, it has finally started to dawn on him that they are about to set sail around the world, following months of training and preparations. On what it is going to be like to depart from London he said: “I think it is going to be very exciting for everybody, an amazing place to start from, right in the centre of one of the biggest cities in the world.”

Emotions will be running high, having to say farewell to loved ones is one of the most difficult elements of ocean racing, but there is also a real buzz around the crew. WTC Logistics Skipper, Mark Burkes, added: “Well, the excitement has arrived already. The crew have enjoyed their time ashore and now they are focusing on saying goodbye to friends and family and preparing for tomorrow.”

The fleet will start slipping lines from 1500 on Sunday afternoon but celebrations will kickstart from 1330 with supporters and fans lining the docks, flanking the river thames and cheering from spectator boats out on the water. Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead, noted that: “It’s a great fanfare and I am sure we will enjoy every moment of it.”

Even with the celebrations to come tomorrow the teams are focused for the Race Start from the Thames Estuary on Monday morning. Visit Sanya, China Skipper, Seumas Kellock, knows all too well what the crew are experiencing and is looking feeling forward to starting his campaign as a Race Skipper. He said: “I am feeling confident, I’ve got a great crew, who have had a fantastic time in London. We are looking forward to all the excitement of tomorrow but are remaining focused for the race start.”

Race 1 is a 1175 nautical mile race to Portimão, Portugal. Skippers and their Additional Qualified Person (AQP) have been planning their routes and monitoring the weather forecast closely. A route that is familiar to Chris Brooks, Skipper of Qingdao, who said: “I have sailed along the Portugese coast and across the bay of biscay a number of times but no sailing is the same. It doesn't matter where you are, it is the conditions that make it unique not where it is.”

He went on to say: “The racing down to Portimão is going to brilliant, there is going to be a lot of different conditions potentially some light spots in the wind and also some wind over 30 knots so we are going to get a bit of everything.”

Commenting on the conditions that the fleet is expecting to face during the first race, Capetonian Skipper of GoToBermuda, David ‘Wavy’ Immelman, said: “At the moment it is looking like it will be a light tactical start with a nice sort of downwind sleighride towards the end but we are still so we are hoping for a little more wind at the start. The teams are going to throw everything, I think it is going to be really competitive, I can’t see anyone lagging behind just because it’s the first race.”

The competitive spirit has started to brew with Punta del Este Skipper, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, keeping his teams cards close to his chest saying: “We have been monitoring the weather closely but I am keeping our tactics as a guarded secret at this stage.”

Unicef Skipper, Ian Wiggin, furthered this, saying: “It is going to be short and very competitive. It is the first one it the first chance to really show what you have got and to set the scene for expectations for the year.”

Watch the Clipper 2019-20 Race departure live from on Sunday 1 September here:

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