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Becoming a Race Crew Member
What is the Clipper Race looking for in a crew member?

There is no ideal person or typical crew member. We have had every age between 18 and 73 on the race and more than 40 nationalities ranging from complete novice through to Yachtmaster. What is crucial is your level of desire, determination and enthusiasm. You need to be a team player and someone who is tolerant, forgiving, understanding and supportive. If you have those soft skills we can turn you into an accomplished ocean racer.

How much does it cost to take part in the Clipper Race?

The Clipper Race is divided into eight legs. You can view the berth fees for each of the eight legs, by using the Route Builder.

How do people deal with seasickness?

Trial and error. Everyone finds a different remedy that works for them. This might be as basic as over the counter medicine. If you take this route, then take a tablet before you sail and during the first 24 hours so it's in your system while you're gaining your sea legs. You can then stop. Other people go for herbal remedies like ginger, wrist bands, that apply pressure to key points and even cotton wool in the ears. When you find a solution that works? Stop experimenting. The worst case scenario is you feel terrible for 48 hours and then your body adjusts and you're ok again.

How fit do I need to be?

Everyone coming to the Clipper Race has a different level of fitness and different idea of what fit means. Training will show you what areas you need to work on. Everything on the Clipper Race yacht is big and heavy and so teamwork and technique are just as important as brute strength. You will get fit on the race? Burning 5,000 calories a day and exercising (even while you sleep) is great.

How are people allocated to teams?

Not only are the yachts identical we also make sure that crew is matched so it is still an even competitive race. We spread the ages, experience, vocations and nationalities across the fleet. Of course if you have a particular yacht that you would like to represent please tell us. But we cannot guarantee being able to grant your request.

How much personal kit can I take?

As a team you will make that decision. Everything you do is a fine balance between having enough and having too much. Too much adds weight and slows the boat down. Not enough means you are cold, wet and demoralised. Somewhere between 20 and 30Kgs of kit is typical.

What kit is included?

Musto is the technical clothing partner of the Clipper Race, and Clipper Race Crew are issued with appropriate technical clothing from the offshore sailing range.

Does it matter that I’m not a sailor, doctor or engineer?

Not at all. Being good with people and being self-aware is far more important. We get lots of doctors, nurses, vets, engineers and experienced sailor. Having unique and interesting life experiences and stories to share is just as important.

How flexible is the training?

There are four levels of mandatory training which all Clipper Race Crew must complete before their race. Each level takes a week to complete. We run courses most weeks of the year so you can plan well ahead and choose the times that best suit your schedule.

Where is training based?

Training is based in Gosport, UK. All four levels of mandatory training must be completed at this location.

See the full address details on our Training page.

The Race
Le Mans start procedure

Due to local constraints and conditions it is not always possible to create a standard start line. In order to enable the Clipper Race fleet to begin racing in these circumstances, the ‘Le Mans Start’ was invented and has been successfully used in all previous races.

The aim of all Skippers is to ensure that the Le Mans Start is as fair as practically possible. The procedure does not work if any of the skippers try to jump the gun or gain an unfair advantage during the start sequence. If the Duty Skipper suspects that an unfair advantage is being obtained by any boat they will halt the start process and re-start the sequence.

The procedure uses the standard start countdown of 10 min, 4 min, 1 min, Start.

1. Prior to the 10 minute signal all boats have their mainsails hoisted. Headsails hanked on, halyards and sheets attached, but NOT hoisted.
2. All boats motor slowly (speed set by Duty Skipper), approx 2 to 3 boat lengths apart in a line abreast on a pre-arranged heading. This heading is usually towards the finish.
3. Once the fleet is in a line abreast, the lead skipper signals the 10 minute gun via VHF on a pre-arranged channel. Engines shall be used to ensure that the boats are lined up accordingly (either reverse or forward).
4. At the 4 minute signal, all crew shall be aft of the forward coffee grinder.
5. At the one minute signal, engines are to be turned off.
6. Mainsails are trimmed to ensure the fleet stays in line. If the fleet drift out of line, the Duty Skipper can stop the sequence and start the process again.
7. At the start gun, the crew can move forward and the headsails can be hoisted.
8. All boats must hold the agreed course and separation for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

Additional points:

-The order of the line up will usually be decided during the Pre-start Skippers Briefing - this is usually pulled out of a hat. (with the exception of the Duty Skipper’s position).

- No spinnakers for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

- No course changes within the first 10 minutes of start gun.

- No luffing for the first 10 minutes after start gun.

- Boats are allowed to tack away from the line up, but must sail behind the fleet. Any boat that does this has no rights of way over those boats that have not tacked during the 10 minutes after the start gun.

Duty Skipper

- The nominated Duty Skipper will be in the middle of the line up at position 6. This is so that they can judge if the fleet are in a straight line.

- The Duty Skipper has overall control of the start sequence and if required, will halt the start sequence at any time up until the start gun.

- The Duty Skipper will ensure that the boats are lined up as fairly as possible for the start sequence.

- The Duty Skipper shall call out the start sequence on a pre-arranged VHF channel.

- The Duty Skipper shall contact the Race Office to confirm that the start has been successfully completed within 30 minutes of the start. The message shall include the official start time, the weather conditions at the start and any other relevant information (e.g. which boat led, tactics etc).

Stealth Mode

Stealth Mode is a concept first introduced by the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to add an extra dose of inter-team competitiveness and a further strategic element to the circumnavigation. Stealth Mode is a tactical card which each team can use to hide their position from the rest of the fleet for a period of 24 hours. Up to two stealth modes may be available depending on the length of the race and they can be used back to back.

The Clipper Race Office team will still track the team's position every hour, but their position is not displayed on the Race Viewer or sent to the fleet for the designated time.

Teams automatically leave Stealth Mode once they are under 250 nautical miles from the finish line and are not allowed to use it within the first 24 hours of the race. Stealth Mode does not have to be used by each team but can definitely give an advantage during a race, especially when the skipper and navigators on board think they have spotted something in the weather reports that other teams may not have seen.

Scoring Gate

A line between two virtual marks which a team can choose to pass through. The first three teams who cross the gate gain extra race points (three for first, two for second and one for third).

Ocean Sprint

A time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude. The fastest three teams gain extra race points (three for first, two for second and one for third).

The Joker

During the overall Clipper Round the World Race each team will have the opportunity once only to play their ‘Joker’.

The ‘Joker’ means that all points gained from the yachts finishing position at the end of the nominated race will be doubled. e.g. if a team finishes 1st then they will be awarded 24 points and if a team finishes 12th then they will be awarded two points.

Any points gained from Scoring Gates or Ocean Sprints will be unaffected.

Each team that wants to play their ‘Joker’ must inform the Race Office in writing at the pre-race Skippers briefing on the day before departure of the nominated race. In the event that there is no planned Skippers briefing then a team must inform the Race Office in writing no later than 24 hours before departure of the nominated race.

Once the intention to play the ‘Joker’ has been received in writing by the Race Office this cannot be rescinded.

Each team may only play their ‘Joker’ once during the Clipper Round the World Race.

Teams are not obliged to use their ‘Joker’ at all.

When and why are Penalty Points applied?

Like all yacht racing there are a series of penalties for infringing the rules. Experience has shown that crews who are successful in the Clipper Race are those that are best able to combine the three elements of boat speed, preservation of equipment and effective repair of breakages.

The Clipper Race Committee’s normal method of penalising a yacht for an infringement of the race rules, or for being found guilty after a protest, is for a time or points penalty to be added to the result of that race. But we go beyond that and apply it to sail and also equipment damage. Thus, a penalty point system has been developed by the Clipper Race to encourage these three elements of good seamanship and safety.

Equipment Damage

The Clipper Race Committee keeps a running total of the costs of lost and damaged equipment and will impose 1 penalty point to the relevant Yacht when the running total reaches £500 and an additional 1 penalty point for every subsequent £500. The following is a list of typical examples, the list is not exhaustive:

i) loss of winch handles;

ii) Halyard jammer handles;

iii) serious damage to equipment, including winch drums and sewing machines requiring a replacement;

iv) loss of any running rigging, snatch blocks or handy billy;

v) serious damage to the deck, hull or rig;

The full circumstances of the particular incident will be considered by the Race Committee on an individual basis taking into account a statement from the Skipper. The replacement of safety related equipment will not incur penalty points.

Sail damage, repair or replacement

Yachts have one wardrobe of 11 sails issued for their use for the entire Race. Historically the teams that have taken best care of their sails have performed very well overall. The Clipper Race is a marathon, not a sprint. This fact is probably more relevant with regard to the attitude Skippers and crew have towards their sails than in any other area.

The general wear on the sails is directly proportional to the use and employment of the sail. When Skippers and crew exceed the prudent limits early in the Race they are weakening their sails, the effect of which may not be apparent until later in the Race. Any sail that has been damaged is never as efficient as one that has not been damaged. By damaging sails, Skippers and crew therefore are not only disadvantaged while the sail is not available but also handicap themselves for the rest of the Race.

Repairs to sails

The Skippers and crews will be responsible for sail repairs and maintenance during the Race and at all the port stops. When a sail is damaged beyond the practical resources of the crew members to repair, consideration will be given to repairing the sail using a local professional sailmaker. In all cases where repairs are required to be made by a professional sailmaker, the Race Committee keeps a running total of sail repair costs.

Two penalty points will be awarded to the relevant Yacht when the running total exceeds £500 (or local equivalent at an agreed exchange rate) and a further two penalty points awarded for every subsequent £500 for the duration of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race. This applies to all sails and sail bags and is cumulative.

Penalty points will be deducted from the Yacht’s overall points tally and will not affect the published finishing position for any particular race. In making any awards, the Race Committee will take into account all factors including the variance of repair costs in the different ports and the scale of penalties awarded for replacement sails (see below).

The Race Committee will decide on whether badly damaged sails will be repaired or replaced. If it is decided that a sail is to be replaced the penalty points identified below will be awarded immediately. Only in exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to replacing sails.

Replacement of sails

In the event of the loss of a sail, or damage that is uneconomic or impractical to repair, the Race Committee will consider replacing the sail and awarding the Yacht a penalty. The full circumstances of the particular incident will be considered on an individual basis by the Race Committee taking into account the following guidelines:

i) The nature of the loss or the extent of the damage.

ii) The length of time of the whole race remaining, noting that the decision may reflect the need to safeguard the fulfilment of the Race of those crew who are taking part in the later legs of the race.

iii) The financial and practical aspects of local resources against the cost and shipping time for replacement sails. This could result in a decision to replace a badly damaged sail rather than repair it. In this case the replacement sail may have to be shipped to the next practical port.

iv) If the damaged/lost sail can be replaced immediately by one of the sails carried in the fleet support containers. Please note that these sails are old and have been previously used.

The penalty to replace any sail is calculated on a sliding scale with higher penalties incurred as the race progresses, so as to encourage good seamanship right up to the end.

i) 5 Penalty Points – Leg 1 and Leg 2

ii) 6 Penalty Points – Leg 3 and Leg 4

iii) 7 Penalty Points – Leg 5 and Leg 6

iv) 8 Penalty Points – Leg 7 and Leg 8

Penalty points will be deducted from the Yacht’s overall points tally and will not affect the published finishing position for any particular race.

Stopovers/In Port
What happens in port?

First and foremost, you and your team must take care of your yacht. After a warm welcome, and well deserved beer, you will be responsible for deep-cleaning, maintenance, re-provisioning and race planning. You can then get some down time, see the sights and catch your breath but if you're not ready to race when you cross the start line, you've already lost.

A stopover in port allows time for friends, family and local communities to visit the fleet and learn more about your experiences during the race. Race Partners will often have an active presence during this time and you may be involved with their planned activities. The Clipper Race will also have public facing events such as open boat days which are supported by Clipper Race Crew.

I’m a friend and family member, can I see the crew straight away in port?

It is more than likely crew will have to go through customs and immigration upon arrival. The Race Office team try and ensure this is completed as quickly as possible and after the official arrival procedures, Crew are free to meet friends and family.

Race Crew Supporters
​How much time will I get to spend with my loved ones in port?

Stopovers are busy times for crew due to yacht maintenance, corporate commitments, and race briefings. These commitments mean your crew member might not be able to spend every day with you. Depending on when they arrive in port, they should expect to get in the region of two days off, if they are continuing onto the next leg.. This however, can vary from port to port depending on when they arrive, and how much maintenance is required to their yacht or sails.

​How will I know when the yacht I am supporting will be in port?

The Clipper Race Team will update the estimated times of arrival (ETAs) as the fleet nears the finish line. Sometimes, the finish line can be a distance away from port, and therefore there will be a delay between the race finish and when the yacht arrives in port. Some ports also have rules about when a yacht can arrive, so please keep checking the Clipper Race website for up-to-date estimates. Due to the nature of sailing, the ETAs can regularly change depending on the weather, but we will endeavour to update you of any changes as quickly as possible.

​Will I be able to greet the Clipper Race yachts on the pontoon?

While you will be able to greet the yacht from the marina, you won’t be allowed onto the pontoon until the yacht has cleared customs and immigration. This process is dependent on the rules of the country the yacht has entered, but the Clipper Race team will endeavour to make it as quick as possible. Remember, if you were meeting your loved one at an international airport, you wouldn’t be able to see them until they had cleared customs and immigration and collected their bags. The same rules apply when arriving by sea.

​What is the arrival procedure for Clipper Race yachts coming into port?

When a Clipper Race yacht arrives at its destination, there are a number of tasks that need to happen before crew are able to leave their yachts. The time it takes to complete these tasks will vary depending on the requirements of the port and country, and if there are any official welcoming ceremonies planned. Here is an overview of a typical arrival.

Race Finish: When a yacht crosses the finish line, the team will need to drop and stow their sails, put up the team branding and battle flags, and motor to port. The length of this motor will depend on the port, and can take a number of hours. Some ports also have restrictions on when a yacht can arrive, which could cause further delays. Information on the approximate time it will take to motor from the finish line to the marina will be publicised for each port.

Yacht Arrival in Marina: The Clipper Race Team will meet the yacht as soon as it is tied up in the marina and run the crew through the practicalities for that marina and stopover. A team photo will also be taken and the skipper and members of crew will be interviewed by both the Clipper Race Communications Team and media outlets. This should take around 20 minutes.

Customs and Immigration: The customs and immigration process will depend on what country the port is in. It could be either a face-to-face passport check on board the yacht, or a meeting with customs and immigration officers at another location. The yacht may also be searched for restricted items which can add time to the process. This should take between 20 and 60 minutes.

Welcome Ceremony: Certain ports will put on a welcome ceremony for each yacht arrival, which could include the crew being paraded and officially welcomed by dignitaries, and or entertained by local cultural acts. After it concludes, your loved one will be able to join you for the long-awaited hugs and kisses.

​Where should I stay during a stopover?

Where you stay during a stopover is entirely up to you, although it will be helpful to be in easy reach of the marina where the yachts will be located. Eight weeks before the Clipper Race fleet’s arrival, information will be issued regarding any special offers available in that particular stopover port, as well links to local tourist websites and accommodation lists where available.

​When will I know what’s going on in a stopover?

Each stopover will have its own flavour depending on what the port has to offer. We will aim to issue an overview of each port eight weeks before the Clipper Race fleet’s arrival, with more details to be released four weeks out.

​Can supporters benefit from Marine Travel fares?

The Marine Travel fares are only available to Clipper Race Crew as you must be registered as a sailor to benefit from these specialist marine fares.

​Who can attend prizegiving?

We know Clipper Race Crew Supporters want to come and see their loved ones receive awards and take part in the celebrations, but the number of attendees will be limited by the size of the venue provided by the host port. A certain number of tickets will be reserved for supporters and information on how to obtain tickets and costs will be announced eight weeks prior to the fleet’s arrival in port. Tickets will be prioritised for those supporting a crew member who took part in the race to the stopover port. You will not need to obtain a ticket for your crew member as these are allocated separately.

​Will there be spectator boats in all the ports?

There will be spectator boats to watch the parade of sail on the water in some ports, depending on port logistics, demand for tickets, and availability of charter vessels. Any plans for supporter boats, and how to secure tickets, will be conveyed in the port information issued eight weeks prior to the fleet’s arrival into port.

​Can I join a sail day?

In some of the stopover ports, there will be public sail days which you will be able to book a place on. Information about these opportunities will be sent out in the port information eight weeks prior to the fleet’s arrival. It is not possible to take family and friends out on the corporate sails in port, as the places are for our corporate partners.

​Why does my loved one have to do corporate sails/open boats?

Corporate events in port are a great opportunity for crew to share their stories with partners and members of the public, create new experiences, and form new contacts and friendships. The Clipper Race has two main revenue streams; the Clipper Race Crew fees and the rights our partners pay to be associated with the race. Without one, the other becomes more expensive. Each Clipper Race Crew member’s contract explains that they will be expected to help with corporate days and open boats for two days per leg, or six days if they are completing the full circumnavigation.

​Is it possible to post my loved one a letter even if I’m not coming to the stopover?

Yes, it is. We will include a postal address for each port in the information sent out eight weeks before the fleet’s arrival into port. Please ensure that you check the regulations for the country you are sending mail to so your package complies with any customs restrictions. The Clipper Race Team will also only arrive a day or so before the fleet, so please try to time your mail as it will not always be possible for all of the locations to receive mail prior to the fleet’s arrival.

​How can I follow the race from home?

The Clipper Race Viewer will be in operation for each race. This will be available via the Clipper Race website and will update the position of each yacht on the route once an hour. It will also update the overall position of each yacht, and let you know when a yacht as crossed the finish line.

There will also be daily race updates on the website, as well as skipper and crew blogs from each team.

​Why has a blog from a team I’m following not been posted on the Clipper Race website?

Each of the twelve teams will be given a daily deadline in order for the skipper and crew blogs to be published once a day on the Clipper Race website. A team however may miss this deadline due to sailing conditions or technical difficulties so don’t panic if the blog is delayed.

​Are there any other Clipper Race Crew Supporters in my area?

Maybe! By signing up to the official Race Crew Supporters Facebook group, you will be able to chat to other Clipper Race Crew Supporters and find out.

​Are there any other Clipper Race Crew Supporters on the same flight as me?

The official Clipper Race Crew Supporters Facebook group is a great way to chat to other Supporters and find out.

​How can my children get involved with supporting their loved one during the Clipper Race?

Children will be able to sign up as a Clipper Race Junior Crew Supporter and will be set a challenge and activity for each leg of the race. The challenges and activities will teach the children about life on the Clipper Race yachts, the countries and cities the race will visit, and sailing in general. There will be a mixture of arts and crafts, fact finding, and games, aimed at children aged between five to twelve years old, however those outside this age range are also welcome to take part.

​Will I be able to go on a Clipper Race yacht and see how my loved one lives on board?

If you are visiting your loved one in a stopover, you should be able to have a look around their yacht, though it’s unlikely to be possible on race arrival or departure days. This needs to be arranged in consultation with their Skipper and fit in with other yacht commitments. In most ports, there will be public open boat days so you will be able to have a tour of a yacht, even if it’s not the one your loved one is on. Remember they are all in fact identical yachts.

​Will I get to meet my loved one’s Skipper?

Skippers value the support family and friends five to their crew member so if you are visiting a port during the Clipper Race, there should be the opportunity to meet your loved one’s Skipper. Skippers’ schedules in port can be demanding however, as they are required to attend meetings, fulfil sponsorship requirements, and carry out yacht maintenance. Also, keep in mind Skippers need down time too, so that they are fully prepared to lead their team in the next race.

​Where/when can I get copies of the race photos?

Photos of yacht arrivals and departures will be posted on the Clipper Race website and Facebook page. Once your loved one has returned from their Clipper Race, they will be sent information on how they can access and download these files.