An elite group of 12 professional skippers who will lead 650 amateur sailors on the world’s longest ocean race has been revealed today.
The twelve skippers for the ninth edition of the famous biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race include a mix of youth and experience, international challengers and home grown talent as well as some familiar faces and only the third ever female to skipper the race.
The group, who went through a rigorous selection process over months, were selected from hundreds of candidates to take on the challenge of leading twelve amateur crews on the adventure of a lifetime. They will also be the first to race on the new fleet of Clipper 70 yachts.
Clipper Race founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston understands well the tests that lie ahead of the twelve and is pleased with the skippers that have been chosen to take on this unique challenge.
“The standard of applicants for this race was high and the successful candidates have been through a rigorous and challenging selection process to get to this point. I am sure that they will all relish the challenges to come. I know that we have chosen an exceptional group of people to undertake the task of leading our crews around the world. This group of skippers can look forward to being the first to race on the new fleet of Clipper 70s, but the focus remains the same as in previous races with the emphasis on motivating the crew and maintaining their safety while remaining competitive in all conditions.”
Vicky Ellis, 30, from Bristol, will be the only female skipper on the race and having worked with Clipper Race crew as a training skipper or over three years, is now looking forward to the challenge of working with her own race crew.
“Clipper Race crew all have a spark about them that makes them different to the rest of the world,” said Ellis. “It makes them stick their neck out and pursue this wild dream when the rest wouldn’t dare. That’s what I love about the Clipper Race and I am really excited about getting my race crew.”
Such is the attraction of the Clipper Race to sailors around the world that the next editions will feature skippers from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland, as well as the UK.
Damian Parnham (48) and Chris Hollis (33) both come from the East Coast of Australia and are looking to build on the growing tradition of Australian success in the race after the last two editions were won by Australian skippers.
Eric Holden (33) hails from Vancouver in Canada, and having originally been introduced to the Clipper Race after his sister took part in 1999, brings a wealth of experience to the table including a stint as weather forecaster for the Canadian Sailing Team at London 2012 Olympics.
Patrick van der Zijden, 43 from Vogelenzang in the Netherlands will be the first Dutchman to skipper the Clipper Race and brings his passion for teaching people to sail to the race. While Irishman Sean McCarter (31) is looking forward to racing into Ireland and being welcomed by a home crowd on the race.
The British contingent features a mix of experience and young chargers, keen to make their mark on the sailing world. Matt Mitchell (26), Oliver Cotterell (27) and Richard Gould (26) are all looking to emulate the success of the Clipper Race’s youngest ever winning skipper, Alex Thomson. While returning to the race are Gareth Glover (36) and Pete Stirling (47). Gareth skippered New York during the Clipper 11-12 Race while Pete led Jamaica Lightning Bolt in the 09-10 edition of the race. Simon Talbot, 43, from Essex, completes the line up of British Challengers.
The twelve skippers will now begin the task of taking the Clipper Race crew through their final training ahead of the race start in the summer. Crew Allocation takes place on 11 May and is the day when crew will find out with which of these twelve that they will be racing around the world.
The Clipper Race is the world’s longest at 40,000 miles and takes almost a year to visit 14 ports on six continents. It was established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1996, who became the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-9.
Skipper photo by www.red-photographic.com (left to right): Patrick van der Zijden, Eric Holden, Gareth Glover, Damian Parnham, Simon Talbot, Pete Stirling, Vicky Ellis, Sean McCarter, Chris Hollis, Olly Cotterell, Matt Mitchell, Rich Gould.