Visit Seattle Clipper 2015-16 Race Highlights

12 August 2016

It's seems appropriate that the team highlights we are posting today are those of Visit Seattle, the crew that always brought the 'Friday feeling' to port.

Under Skipper Huw Fernie and representing America’s ‘Emerald City’ for the first time, Visit Seattle became known as the ‘party boat’ for its fun vibes before finding form in the final quarter of the race.

Visit Seattle finished in eighth place on the overall leaderboard after winning three podiums: the penultimate race of the series into The Netherlands; coming second on the final race into London and enjoying a podium place in New York after coming third in June.

According to Skipper Huw, crossing the Pacific on Race 9 gave confidence to the team, and it was after that on the American Coast-to-Coast Leg that they started to race harder and sailed to win. On board for the Pacific crossing, the official documentary cameraman from 1080 media Rich Edwards filmed and produced an emotive highlights reel with input from circumnavigator and video producer Amancio Maciá. Immerse yourself in the crew's experience by watching it here.

It was also on the Pacific leg into the team’s home port that American Visit Seattle crew member Martin Frey made history, becoming the first person to scale the seven summits and sail the seven seas.

Martin’s Pacific Ocean race was the culmination of eleven years of global adventures spanning 35,000 nautical miles and more than 14.5 vertical miles scaling the highest summit on each continent.

Speaking at the time, Martin said: “The Pacific Ocean crossing was the toughest thing I have done out of all the challenges, including climbing Mount Everest. It was extremely hard physically and mentally due to the hostile environment which saw us encounter snow and big Pacific storms regularly.

“I loved the team aspect of the challenge - during the tough times, everyone really helped each other pull through.”

The stopover in Seattle in April was also a big boost for the team which received a warm welcome in the city.

As part of the partnership with Team Sponsor Seattle Sports Commission, Huw was invited to make the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game at the Safeco Field Stadium in front of a large home crowd.

Huw had been practising for weeks in anticipation of the big moment, even training on board by throwing oranges towards the mast or into the water at sea.

Huw said they took that energy from Seattle and carried it on through the race down to Panama, claiming the Ocean Sprint points for the first time.

Then, on Race 11 from Panama to New York, Visit Seattle came third, achieving its first podium after battling well through Tropical Storm Colin.

Following that the team then won Race 13 into Den Helder, The Netherlands after keeping focus during the short race from Derry-Londonderry, and catching a favourable tide through the Pentland Firth. A rapturous welcome awaited there with Dutch circumnavigator on board, Jan Van De Laar. His ‘Jan Op Zee Schools Project’ made waves amongst the Clipper Race family and winder network, with hundreds of schoolchildren in The Netherlands following his journey through a special educational programme set up by his schoolteacher sister Nicole.

Finally, the team came second in Race 14 to London, finishing just 29 seconds behind Derry~Londonderry~Doire.

The surge in form saw Visit Seattle finish in eighth overall in the standings, just three points behind Qingdao in fifth.

With an emphasis on fun and celebrating birthdays and other special days on board and some entertaining dance moves at prize-giving events, Visit Seattle was also synonymous with the hashtag #Danceifyouwanttogofaster.

At the final prize-giving in London, the overall Stormhoek Social Spirit Award was given to the Visit Seattle crew which had won three awards previously.

Announcing Visit Seattle as the winner, Stormhoek Wines owner Bernard Fontannaz said: “They are the ones who dance as they come and as they leave. The ones who win while they are dancing. The ones who founded a school project making children discover the world. The ones who invite you to visit their place. These ones are the ones who personify at best what the Stormhoek Social Spirit is all about!

“The Stormhoek Social Spirit is about the team, its cohesion, its high spirit and, ultimately, that they are true to who they are. Congratulations Visit Seattle!” Bernard added.

The race’s first Estonian round the world crew member Karri Palts summed up the spirit on board Visit Seattle in her final crew diary.

“The people that have surrounded me this year have inspired me, changed me, challenged me, supported me, loved me, told me off, made me cry, made me kinder, opened my eyes, helped me breathe, taught me to be braver and stronger and better.

“And all of them have, repeatedly, over and over again, shown me how to go through even the most horrible conditions with so, so, so much laughter and still manage to say 'chicken no bone' when the main sail has finally been lashed down and storm sails are up and it is Mother Nature controlling and running the boat, rather than us.

“I did not get to choose my team but through some insane and divine stroke of luck I ended with a completely insane and extraordinary group of people. Men and women, boys and girls, who are all remarkable. Women who I'd one day like my daughters to grow up to be like, men who epitomize gentlemanliness, boys and girls with enough youth and energy and ideas and beauty to actually change the world,” Karri added.

To Skipper Huw and the crew of Visit Seattle, we thank you for your constant smiles and laughing, dancing and for inspiring us and the many school children who have been following your journey.

Congratulations Emily Bambridge, Vernon Barker, Chris Beddoes, Helena Blomqvist, Pablo Borrego Rutllant, Tiffany Campbell, Amanda Cheesley, Andrew Chesser, Laszlo Dacher, Luke Dernedde, Ana Downer-Duprey, Diane Duncan, Andy Fonseca, Martin Frey, Katharine Garner, Alejandra Gomez, Michael Gorrill, Pekka Granroth, Rosalind Guy, Jonathan Haines, Sean Hanan, Mia Hartwell, Susanna Hetherton, Michael Jones, Nikolas Kaupke, Jesse Kivialho, Mike Knight, Lars Lind, Amancio Maciá, Anita Mattison, John Mccaffery, Sean Mchugh, Sebastian Mocanu, Dana Nichols, Lucy Nunn, Rachel Oatley, Lucy O'Connor, Kärri Palts, Anna Philpot, Leo Romanenko, Sean Scanlon, Glen Singleton, Stephen Sonneveld, Rachel Southall, Pawel Stawicki, Stephen Swift, Susanne Vaih, Jan Van De Laar, Bob Warren, Andrew Wheatley, Joseph Wiggin, James Withers, Richard Wyles, Ben Xu.

To relive the team’s highs and lows, read their crew diaries here.

To find out more about the Emerald City and the Clipper Race’s partnership with Visit Seattle click here.

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