Throwback Thursday: Fleet pass through one of the engineering wonders of the world - the Panama Canal

28 May 2015

In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we look at the most memorable moments of May during the last edition of the race.

In the penultimate leg of the 8-leg series, en-route to New York from San Francisco, USA, the fleet got off to a flying start, as their journey took them via the famous Panama Canal and Jamaica. One of the longest and most tactically challenging sections of the entire circumnavigation, teams had to decide whether to go inshore or offshore, and a poor routing decision cost some competitors the race even in the early stages.

Team Switzerland favoured the offshore route and Leg 7 crew member, Abigail Khan, a 32 year-old Doctor from Twickenham, UK re-lives her experience on the race to the finish line off Panama City.

“I chose Leg 7 because of its diversity - there was downwind and upwind sailing, the wildlife came highly recommended, there were three different races and great places to stop over.

“Approaching the Panama Canal was momentous, particularly for those of us who were just doing Leg 7. We had completed our longest stretch at sea - almost three weeks. We were pretty much half way through. We'd survived the heat, we'd learnt so much about spinnaker sailing and my aunt was on the dock to meet us too, which was absolutely wonderful for me!”

The 100 year old Panama Canal is one of the engineering wonders of the world. It took ten years to build and stretches for 48 miles in Panama, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. More than 13,000 ships use the canal every year and the Clipper 2015-16 Race fleet’s passage through it next spring will mark the … time it has formed part of the race route.

Abigail says: “Crossing through the Panama Canal was fantastic - few people have the opportunity to go via sail boat so we were very privileged. Going up the mast petrified me, but it was well worth the view. Rafting up with other boats to go through the locks was also really fun. If I were to describe it in three words I would say it was awe-inspiring, extraordinary and huge!”

Looking back on her memory one year on, Abigail says: “Sailing down from San Francisco, there was one clear night with unexpected strong winds and we seemed to almost surf along with our spinnaker up, the boat keeled over and the air really clear. The speed, refreshing breeze and wonderful night time sailing was just amazing. I loved being part of a team; I loved my fellow crew members; I loved the sailing with the wonderful fresh air, wildlife and skies; I loved doing something completely different from my work; I loved being on the podium in Jamaica, and then I loved seeing my husband in New York!”

To view a selection of pictures from the Clipper Race crew passing through the Panama Canal, click here.

If you want to experience the thrill of racing the world’s oceans and the Panama Canal, contact us soon as the race is almost full for this year, with Leg 7 already sold out completely. To find out more, click here.

We are also recruiting for the 2017-18 race edition. You can find out more information by emailing Della Parsons [email protected] or calling +44 (0) 2392 526000.

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