The eleven courageous Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race teams, including a Visit Seattle entry with a number of local and US crew, are celebrating reaching the halfway point in their gruelling 5,600 nautical mile journey across the harsh North Pacific Ocean to Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina, where they’re aiming to arrive between 19 and 21 April.
The Visit Seattle team has crossed the International Date Line in the heaviest weather of the race so far and is now more than halfway through to its home port. It has been tricky day for the team as 24 year-old Skipper Nikki Henderson reports: “Reaching the halfway point of the race is a fantastic feeling and its exciting to be counting down the miles to Seattle now, but it has been a very challenging race. Our mast track has suffered a few bumps and bruises and will need repairing as soon as the weather calms down. Looks like it’s reef three for the next 24 hours, then!”
Officially named The Race to The Emerald City, this is the ninth of thirteen individually scored stages which make up the 40,000-nautical mile Clipper Race circumnavigation, with this race across the North Pacific referred to by many as ‘the big one’ due to its length and infamously stormy and challenging weather conditions.
Shannon Dean, 54, a Nurse from Seattle who is a Circumnavigator on board Visit Seattle says: “I left Seattle 267 days ago to sail around the world, in another eight days or so (please let there be no more wind holes!) we sail into familiar waters. I can’t quite comprehend the joining of my two worlds, my floating home sailing past the San Juan Islands and docking downtown, near where I’ve worked, gone to dinner and plays, and taken my costumed children trick or treating.”
Currently in its eleventh edition, the Clipper Race is the only event on the planet which trains everyday people to take on one of Mother Nature’s toughest endurance challenges and remarkably 40 percent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up as full training is provided.
Crew can choose to compete either in individual or multiple race legs or indeed the entire eleven-month circumnavigation. Over 700 crew compete across the entire race, representing more than 40 different nationalities.
This is the second consecutive race to feature a Seattle stopover and a Visit Seattle team entry which is aimed at boosting global tourism for the region. At the current time, Visit Seattle sits third in the overall race leaderboard with 81 points, behind second placed Qingdao (85 points) and race leader Sanya Serenity Coast (97).
The Clipper Race started from Liverpool, England, on 20 August 2017 and has so far raced via; Punta del Este – Uruguay; Cape Town – South Africa; Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart and the Whitsunday – Australia; and Sanya and Qingdao – China.
After a busy stopover in the city, the teams will depart Seattle on 29 April, bound for Panama and will race on to New York and Derry Londonderry – Northern Ireland before returning to Liverpool on 28 July 2018 where this epic adventure will conclude.