03 November 2013

Clipper Round the World Racing

Preparing for the Cape Town to Australia leg

Are you into Adventure Travel?

Then look no further than a dream journey on one of the 12 Clipper Yachts!

This remains one of the world's longest yacht races.

With circumnavigation of the globe taking a full 11 months, this is a challenge like no other. Totalling 15 races, 64,000 km with varying weather conditions, you will become tougher, leaner, hopefully not meaner, and you will either love the life or wish you had never set foot on a yacht! You may need to become a navigator, medic, weather forecaster, electrician or chef plus doing all the deck work on a racing yacht!

Don't be put off - training is provided and you can opt for just one of the legs of the race - approx. 3 weeks e.g. Cape Town to Australia.

Quote from web site: November 2014 "Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 75, will return to his solo ocean racing roots this November 2014 when he takes part in French single-handed classic, the Route de Rhum on his Open 60 entry, Grey Power. 
The founder of the Clipper Race and first ever man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968/69, will compete in the tenth anniversary edition of the 3,500 mile Transatlantic race  from St Malo, France which starts on 2 November 2014.

Knox-Johnston last did this race in 1982 in his 70-foot catamaran Olympus, better known as Sea Falcon. He is the oldest participant entered so far at the age of 75.
Asked why he had chosen a solo Transatlantic Race at the age of 75, Knox-Johnston responded:
“Participating in the 2013 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race reminded me how much I enjoy the excitement of an ocean race.  Solo sailing is where I feel most at home – no one else can benefit you or let you down – it is all in my hands. The Route de Rhum is one of the classics – it is a very well-run race.”
The race sees sailors cross the Bay of Biscay late in the year in November before reaching the kinder, yet still squally climes of the trade wind belt before finishing in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
The first edition of the race in 1978 was won by Canadian Mike Birch after a nail biting finish but was marred by the disappearance of French sailor, Alain Colas, who was lost at sea.
The 2014 race is open to mono and multihull boats across four classes with almost 80 entrants. Sir Robin will be racing in the Rhum class and will start serious practice once the current Clipper Round the World Yacht Race finishes in July.
Knox-Johnston will celebrate the 45th anniversary of his inaugural circumnavigation on April 22 2014. The voyage took 312 days"

The Clipper 2013 were brand new boats, sleek 70 ft with approx. 22 crew plus a professional skipper on each of the 12 yachts.
 Crew ages range from 18 - 73! So age is no excuse!

We were privileged to be able to go on board one of these yacht during November 2013 whilst they were moored in Cape Town prior to their leg to Australia.

Seeing all the food being sorted out in enormous piles - huge cans of baked beans, canned fruit, sweets, salty biscuits, carrots, onions, potatoes, eggs, oranges, corned beef, flour etc, etc plus loads of toilet rolls, was an eye-opener. I don't know if I would know where to start to supply food for 3 weeks to a crew of 22/23. They certainly do not want to go hungry whilst at sea!!

The yachts are built for speed, not comfort so anybody who is the least bit claustrophobic needs to scratch this race off their bucket list. Space is at a premium, with a large section used only for storing all the various sails that are used during the voyage. Engines may only be used to reach the starting point and again once over the finishing line. Man overboard? They may use the engines but will have to log this and return to the point where they started the engines. Hopefully, this never happens.

The "bunks" are purely a place to crash after your stint on deck - no luxury and certainly no privacy! There are 2 toilets on board, one right next to the very tiny galley so smells could well linger......!  So many tins of baked beans!

This race attracts crew from all walks of life and we were able to chat to a few of them. Some have never sailed at all before and it is a dream come true for many.

The total voyage costs GBP 45,000 (subject to change) - this includes training, meals and accommodation. The price is less if you only opt for one or two legs.

Split into shifts of 08.00 - 14.00, 14.00 - 20.00, 20.00 - 12.00, 12.00 - 04.00, 04.00 - 08.00 and then the cycle starts again. Everybody has a turn to do all the tasks on boards so cleaning and cooking also feature. The galley is so tiny, imagination is required.

We met Vicky, the skipper of Switzerland and we met crew on board the Jamaica.

Whilst I am unashamedly a Semi-luxury to Luxury traveller so I would not dream of a voyage in these conditions. However, if you are into crazy, fun, and stimulating adventure, don't suffer from sea-sickness, love small spaces, love meeting like-minded people, then this is an adventure of a life-time that just has to feature on your bucket list!!!

A crew member on one of the yachts mentioned a Tuk-Tuk race across India.
Perhaps somebody could persuade me to do something along those lines provided that I stayed in 5* hotels along the way....but sailing, no way.

But don't you delay - get that application off soon!

If you are interested in doing the Clipper race in the future, then get in touch with the organisers:



We wish all the brave (or foolish??) crew a wonderful experience at sea - there is no doubt that it will change your life!

PS: I have no connection with the organisers - this was just a trip to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town which turned out to be most interesting!

© Judelle Drake

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