They’re off! Again. The 11 boats in the current Clipper Around the World Race, the most accessible circumnavigation race to the average sailor, started off Seattle yesterday under partly cloudy skies and light winds. The race will take the boats past the California coast directly to the Panama Canal, which they will transit and then resume racing to New York. The leg totals 6,091 miles and is estimated to take 38 days. The 40,000-mile race started last August in Liverpool and will finish back in Liverpool at the end of July.
Every time this race is run we marvel at the complexity of managing this for-profit venture that takes sailors and non-sailors on one of the most demanding challenges the world has to offer. A fleet of 12 identical, robust 70-ft monohulls with about 22 crew per boat left England last year, but one was lost on a reef off the coast of South Africa, with all hands saved. Now the remaining 11 continue the voyage. The youngest participant is 18; the oldest is 76. There are 712 crew; of which 198 are women. There are 41 nationalities, with Brits by far the largest group and Americans second. The race has been run every two years since 1996, with more than 5,000 crew participating.
The boats are just leaving the Strait of Juan de Fuca and will be off California in a few days. Winds are light and building. Many of the current crew are doing the full circumnavigation and just finished the 5,000-plus-mile North Pacific leg from Qingdao to Seattle. Now, after some rest, they are joined by some of the ‘leggers’ who do segments of the full regatta. All 200+ crew are now underway on the 6,000-mile leg to NYC. We’ll give a wave as they sail by. You can follow (or join!) the adventure here.