The eleven Clipper Race Skippers have had their penultimate briefing ahead of Race 3 from Punta del Este, Uruguay to Cape Town, South Africa.

Following a busy week of celebrations and community engagement, we caught up with them to find out how they are feeling ahead of the next ocean crossing.

Guy Waites with Elena Hughes, the attaché to Dare To Lead from Yacht Club Punta del Este

Reflecting on the stopover Guy Waites, Dare to Lead Skipper said “It has been a fabulous stopover as the people here are so warm , friendly and inviting. It has been a big spectacle for the locals, a huge number of people have come down every day - from curious onlookers to those coming to the public boat tours. We’ve had great food, great wine and great entertainment.”

This next race that can throw everything at the crew - from raging South Atlantic storms to long surfing runs which, together, combine to pose a unique mental and physical challenge. Much of the feedback from the Skippers has been that the crew has developed its skills enormously since the race started in London on September 1.

The Visit Sanya, China team came second in Race 2: The Commodore's Cup

Currently sitting in third place on the leaderboard, Seumas Kellock, Skipper on board Visit Sanya, China said of his crew “The team that are carrying on from Leg 1 are a completely different crew to the team in London. They have developed so far and I’m looking forward to them developing the new members also.”

Josh Stickland, Skipper on board Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam said: “Leg 1 has been a good warm up, hopefully we won’t find too many challenges but we are taking it up a gear - gear 2 to gear 3 now.”

A short, fast race lies ahead of the fleet as they set off to cross the South Atlantic, a bucket list ocean crossing for many of the non-professional crew.

Ahead of the race, Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez, Skipper on board Punta del Este said: “The challenge of Race 3 is that it is a quick race - we have no room for mistakes, everything has to happen perfectly. We had some issues in Race 2, now we will come back stronger. We have talked as a crew, organised a few things and we feel strong.”

Also feeling confident to stay at the top end of the leaderboard is Chris Brooks, Qingdao Skipper, who when asked what they will do to stay at the top said, “We’re just going to win again.”

Dolphin spotted by Unicef on Race 2

With racing firmly on the agenda, one Skipper in particular is looking forward to the benefits of being amongst unique wildlife. Ian Wiggin, Skipper on board Unicef said: “We are all keen penguin spotters, we saw four on the last race which was very cool. On the next race I would love to see some whales, but not too close. I like to see new nature!”

Whilst Mark Burkes, Skipper on WTC Logistics remarked: “On the last leg, four of us finished within four hours of each other on a 5000 mile race. This is shorter and faster and I think there is going to some splits on the fleet early on and we want to be in the first half”.

The Seattle team arrive into Punta del Este

David Hartshorn, newly-appointed Seattle Skipper will be starting his Clipper 2019-20 Race experience and is keen to get started with his crew, commenting: “The crew have an absolutely fantastic great work ethic, now we just need to convert that on the course ahead.”

Imagine your Korea Skipper Mike Surridge said on Race 3: “I guess it will probably split quicker and it will be interesting to see how far south people will choose to go and those that stay further north with the scoring gate in mind.”

For Capetonian skippers, South African-born Nick Leggatt leading Zhuhai and David ‘Wavy’ Immelman leading GoToBermuda, Race 3 will be extra special.

Heading home for GoToBermuda Skipper, David Immelman means being reunited with his little girls and the excitement is clear. As well as seeing his family he is enthusiastic about his crew experiencing the arrival into the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront with Table Mountain in sight.

He said: “I’m really proud of the city so it will be really nice for the crew to see the beautiful place I live. Taking the crew there is special, it’s awe-inspiring sailing in with Table Mountain as the backdrop. They will be blown away and it will be exciting for us. After crossing an ocean and having this amazing view, it is quite something, one of the natural wonders of the world.

There’s definitely competition between the two South African skippers - and all the fleet but we all get together and say well done at the end.”

And his top tip for anyone experiencing Cape Town for the first time is “to get up Table Mountain, it is one of the most spectacular things you can do in your life.”

Nick Leggatt, Zhuhai Skipper said: “I am very excited about sailing into my home port, particularly as the reception will be great getting there ahead of Wavy! It’s definitely a race between us and we’ll be watching each other closely. We’ve spent many years sailing against each other, so yes, we’re friends but... it’s a race.”

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