Puneet Varma (Editor)

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was conceived in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and together with William Ward (CEO), founded Clipper Ventures, a company that would run the race. Jeremy Knight joined in 1998 initially as Finance Director and later as Chief Operating Officer. Various other directors joined the business during its development, but Knox-Johnston, Ward and Knight formed the core of the board and currently they are the only directors.


The event gives paying amateur crew members the chance to sail around the world. The organizers own a fleet of identical yachts, and provide qualified skippers to lead each team. Crew can either sign up for the whole race, or one or more legs. In contrast to the slightly older Global Challenge (no longer being staged due to the owner company going into administration), the Clipper race uses lighter, faster boats and the route follows the prevailing currents and winds.

The race ran every two years between 1996 and 2002, and then skipped a year, with subsequent races beginning in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015.

Teams compete for the Times Clipper 2000 trophy, made of lead crystal.

Origins of the name 'Clipper'

In the 1830s tea clippers were small, fast, cargo carrying sailing ships. Premium prices were paid for the season's first consignment of tea from China to reach London. In the Great Tea Race of 1866, four such ships held an unofficial race, and this inspired the name of the modern day race.

The eight Clipper 60 yachts were initially named after tea clippers including Ariel, Blackadder, Taeping and Thermopylae.


Since 1996, the Clipper Race has taken more than 2,000 people from all walks of life and turned them into long distance racers. Around half have no previous sailing experience. Around 40% of the crew are female. There is no upper age limit. In Clipper 09-10, crew came from 41 nationalities, representing 230 different professions and were aged from 18 to 69. Most have gone on to continue their love of the sea through boat purchases, sailing holidays and jobs in the marine sector.

Clipper Race Yacht Club

Crew members often form deep bonds and long-lasting friendships. In order to facilitate crew keeping in touch with one another, on 24 April 2009 the Clipper Race Yacht Club was officially launched at a ceremony at St Katharine’s Dock. The purpose of the club is to create an association of Clipper alumni to the mutual advantage of all parties and for the purpose of having fun. Membership is open to individuals who have completed at least one leg of the Clipper Round the World yacht race, or competed with Clipper in another approved race, or have been associated with Clipper Ventures as a staff member.

Clipper 60

The fleet for the 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 races featured the "Clipper 60", a 60-foot yacht designed by David Pedrick and built by Colvic Craft. The design was based on the Camper and Nicholson Bluewater 58 cruising yacht. Modifications were made to the cruising version including a new deck layout better suited to ocean racing and an enlarged rig. Eight Clipper 60s were built. After the 2002/3 race, some of the Clipper 60s were initially retained for use in crew training and corporate events, but all have now been sold (for example Antiope now operates as a charter yacht based in Iceland).

Clipper 68

For the 2005 race, a new fleet of Clipper 68s was built to replace the Clipper 60s. The 68-foot yachts were designed by Ed Dubois and the fleet increased from eight boats to ten. The Clipper 68's longer hull line, taller mast, lighter overall weight (two tons lighter than its predecessor), and a flatter bottom meant faster boat speeds. The Clipper 68s have logged downwind surfs approaching 30 knots. The yachts were built in China, the first time a fleet of racing yachts had been built in mainland China. Clipper Ventures managed the project themselves with Jeremy Knight heading up the project. In 2010 an additional Clipper 68 was built to replace one which was lost when it ran aground.

The Clipper 68s were retired after the 2011-12 race. Two of the yachts are now based in Australia where they are used for crew training and corporate sailing.

Yacht names

CV5 and CV10 were delivered to Australia where they are used by Clipper Ventures for crew training. CV1 and CV11 are for sale.

Clipper 70

From Clipper 2013 races feature the Clipper 70, designed by Tony Castro Naval Architects. The fleet of twelve Clipper 70s were built by Mazarin Yachts in Qingdao, China for use in the 2013-14 race.


Routes are selected that allowed for a high proportion of downwind sailing, the most technically demanding point of sail.


For the inaugural race the yachts did not feature sponsor's branding. In 2000, The Times newspaper came on board as title sponsor, featuring the race as its Millennium project. The event was renamed The Times Clipper 2000 Race and for the first time, the yachts were backed by UK cities. William Ward has expanded the city concept since Clipper 2002 and subsequent races with entries from international cities. The race now generated one of the highest returns on investment for sponsors compared to other sailing events.


The inaugural race was low-key with the start watched by only a handful of spectators, whereas at the start of Clipper 09-10 attracted an estimated 150,000 spectators, and the Red Arrows flew overhead. By the end of that race the race had been exposed to an estimated combined global circulation of more than 470,000,000 people.


The first race took a route starting from Plymouth and then sailing to Madeira, Fort Lauderdale, Panama, Galapagos, Hawaii, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seychelles, Durban, Cape Town, Salvador (Brazil), the Azores and back to Plymouth.


Scores were calculated on a for each race. First = 1 point, Second = 2 points and so on...


Seven boats raced, with Blackadder not competing.


The route was largely the same as the '96 race, but called briefly at Nassau in the Bahamas before going to Marina Hemingway, five miles to the west of Havana, a direct course between the USA and Cuba being impossible.


The race was won, convincingly, by Alex Thomson, who was the youngest skipper to win a round the world yacht race at just 24. Thomson used the win to springboard him into the international racing scene on his Open 60 Hugo Boss.

The Times Clipper 2000 Race

This was the only race to have a title sponsor, with the UK daily broadsheet The Times sponsoring the race and trophy.


All eight Clipper 60 yachts took part, and were renamed after cities in the UK (Portsmouth, Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Jersey and Liverpool), with the crews, where possible, drawn from the city their boat was named for.


The race started and finished in Portsmouth harbour. The stop in the Azores was replaced by one in New York City and to compensate for the extra distance the Seychelles to Durban to Cape Town leg was reduced to Mauritius to Cape Town.

The race attempted to make it from Yokohama to Shanghai but a fierce storm east of Tokyo Bay in March 2001 caused damage to several of the boats and by the time they had returned to Japan for repair, the entry visas to China had lapsed. Instead, the fleet raced from Yokohama to Naha, the capital of the Japanese island, Okinawa.

Another diversion took place in May 2001 when mechanical problems to Bristol Clipper’s generator meant the fleet spent two days in Christmas Island and the crews got an unexpected Australian stamp in their passports.

In another modification to the Clipper ‘96 and Clipper ‘98 route, stops were included in Vilamoura (Portugal), Singapore and Mauritius with the penultimate race going from New York to the Channel Island port of St. Helier.


The point scoring method was altered, with the races now scoring 8 points for a win, 7 for second and so on.


This was to be the fourth and final circumnavigation for the Clipper 60 fleet. Three of the boats were renamed, and international cities were now added to the race, Hong Kong, Cape Town and New York.


The start point was moved to Liverpool, and an estimated 40,000 spectators came to see the boats off despite a 24-hour delay due to storms in the Irish Sea. 100 mph (160 km/h) gusts turned the local waters into a boiling maelstrom and the start was postponed from the Sunday until the next day.

The race continued to go westwards. As in 2000, the attempt to race into Shanghai failed – this time thanks to the promised berthing facilities being withdrawn. Further along the route, the fleet was challenged by the SARS virus and the yachts were forced to find an alternative location close to Singapore. The popular Indonesian island of Batam provided the facilities and the stop proved so popular, it was a catalyst for Singapore to enter a yacht in the next running of the race.


The 2005 race was the first to feature the larger Clipper 68 yachts.

After the initial three international boats from the 2002 race, the race was made fully international, with boats sponsored by Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Qingdao, Durban, New York City, Singapore and Western Australia as well as the home teams of Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and Jersey.


The 2005 race was the first to circumnavigate from east to west. The route was altered to take account of the faster boats, and to take in stopovers at many of the sponsoring cities. For the first time there was a leg across the Southern Ocean between Durban and Fremantle, and a leg across the North Pacific between Qingdao and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

The race schedule was significantly altered when Glasgow Clipper reported keel problems in the South China Sea, and diverted to Subic Bay in the Philippines, followed by the rest of the fleet that were showing symptoms, causing an enforced 6 week stopover. The revised schedule dropped the planned stopover in Yokohama from the route, and moved the Caribbean stopover from Curaçao to Jamaica.


Races score 1st = 10 points, 2nd = 9 pts, etc. However, Race 1 (Liverpool to Cascais) and Race 13 (Holyhead to Liverpool) were scored at half points. In addition, the race committee did sometimes apply points penalties, invariably for excessive sail damage. The penalty points are shown in brackets after the result.

The original race 6, from Singapore to Qingdao was abandoned when the fleet diverted to Subic, and no points were awarded.

Liverpool and Singapore were awarded a tie in Race 3, after Liverpool had a GPS failure, and could not confirm its finish time with sufficient accuracy to determine whether it was ahead or behind Singapore. 5.5 points were awarded to each boat.

Clipper 07–08 Race

The Clipper 07–08 race started on 16 September 2007 in Liverpool.


Once again, 10 Clipper 68s took part. There were some changes to the lineup with Victoria, Jersey and Cardiff replaced by Jamaica, Hull & Humber and Nova Scotia.


The race had some changes compared to the 05–06 route. La Rochelle was the first stop, replacing Cascais, and the route for Leg 5 changed, with the race leaving Qingdao and heading to Santa Cruz via Hawaii, eliminating the stopovers in Yokohama and Victoria. The final leg also changed, with an extra stop in Halifax, and the final pitstop in Cork, rather than Jersey and then finished in Liverpool in July 2008.


  • In Race 3, Hull and Humber crossed the line first, but had a four-hour penalty applied for using her motor during a casualty evacuation near the start of the race. As New York were six minutes behind, and Liverpool and Glasgow also finished within four hours, Hull and Humber dropped to 4th place in that race.
  • In Race 8, Western Australia and Durban did not compete after losing their masts in Race 7. The race committee awarded them points for the race based on their average position in races 1–7. Durban got 7 points, Western Australia got 5.
  • RTD = Retired, DNC = Did not compete

    Where two teams are equal on points, their relative position is determined using the countback rule. That is, the team with the most first-place finishes is placed higher; if those are equal, look at second-place finishes, and so forth...

    Points have been deducted for sail damage: Glasgow & Hull and Humber 4, Nova Scotia & Jamaica 3, Liverpool 1.

    Race 1 was for half points.

    Clipper 09–10 Race

    Clipper 09–10 started from Kingston upon Hull on the Humber Estuary on 13 September 2009. The race was won by Spirit of Australia on 17 July 2010, when the yachts returned to Hull Marina for a gala celebration.


    The same fleet of Clipper 68s took part. The yachts were named Hull and Humber, Qingdao, Uniquely Singapore, Cape Breton Island, Spirit of Australia, California, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Jamaica Lightning Bolt, Team Finland and Cork.

    On 15 January 2010, Cork Clipper ran aground on the Gosong Mampango reef in the Java Sea at 3°35.1195′S 109°10.9′E. In 1992 it was reported that the reef and its associated light lie 0.9 nmi (1.7 km) east of their charted positions. The crew successfully evacuated the yacht and were aided by competitors Team California and Team Finland. Cork Clipper was abandoned a few days later after the decision was made that any attempt to salvage her would be uneconomical. Stuart Jackson's Challenge 67 yacht "Aurora of London" was chartered and prepared and re-branded as "Cork" in Antigua. She rejoined the race in Panama in May 2010, where she was skippered by Hannah Jenner - former 07/08 skipper of 'Glasgow - Scotland With Style'. The Cork yacht was able to finish the race in style as they achieved line honours into their home port of Kinsale, and won the final race from IJmuiden to Hull; winning a second coveted yellow pennant.


    For this race, stealth mode was introduced along with scoring gates.

    Clipper 11-12 Race

    The fleet departed from Ocean Village on 31 July 2011 and the race started in the Solent. The race lasted a full year and covered an estimated 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 km).


    In this edition of the race the fleet included a newly built Clipper 68 to replace the yacht lost at sea. The race saw several yachts suffering steering gear failures, the most severe causing Singapore to retire during the leg to New Zealand. During race 9 from Qingdao to California, an incident on the Geraldton Western Australia yacht made international headlines when the US Coastguard Cutter Bertholf rescued two of the four injured crew from the yacht.


    The route was again modified with yachts visiting Eastern Australia and New Zealand for the first time before sailing up to Singapore.


    Scoring gates and stealth mode were again features of the 11-12 race.


    For this edition, the fleet was expanded to 12 brand new identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70 yachts. In a break from tradition, 5 of the yachts are sponsored by companies rather than cities or countries.


    The race set off from London's St. Katherine Docks on Sunday 1 September, with the start taking place offshore at Southend the following morning. The fleet then raced to Brest and onwards to Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Singapore, Qingdao, San Francisco, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Derry/Londonderry, and Den Helder, before finishing back in London.


    On 10 April 2013, the skippers for the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race were announced as follows:

    Clipper 13-14 Results


    The 2015-16 edition of the race featured the same matched fleet of twelve Clipper 70 yachts as took part in the 2013-14 Race. GREAT Britain, Derry-Londonderry-Doire and Qingdao return as sponsors, with other the sponsors announced during 2015 being (in order of announcement): ClipperTelemed+, Mission Performance, Unicef, IchorCoal, Garmin, Da Nang - Viet Nam, LMAX Exchange, PSP Logistics, and Visit Seattle.


    The 2015-16 edition of the race set sail on Sunday 30 August 2015, once again from London's St Katharine Docks, with the actual start of the first race taking place offshore at Southend at 1230 BST on Monday 31 August. The fleet will race to Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany, Sydney, Hobart, the Whitsunday Islands, Da Nang, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama, New York, Derry/Londonderry, and Den Helder, before finishing back in London.


    On 18 March 2015, the skippers for the Clipper 15-16 Round the World Yacht Race were announced as follows:


    On 29 July 2016, the winners of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race were announced as follows:


    There have been two fatalities in the 20-year history of the Clipper race, both incidents taking place during the 2015-2016 race, and on the same yacht.

    Andrew Ashman At midnight on 5 September 2015 - day 7 of the first leg of the race - the fleet were off the coast of Portugal when Andrew Ashman (49), a watch leader aboard IchorCoal was knocked unconscious as he adjusted the mainsheet while reefing. Resuscitation attempts were not successful and he died. An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that the injury took place during two uncontrolled gybes, with the boom swinging across the yacht due to a broken preventer.

    Sarah Young During day 12 of the North Pacific leg, the crew of IchorCoal had just reefed her mainsail in 35–40 knots (65–74 km/h) of wind. Crewmember Sarah Young (40) was tidying the ropes in the cockpit when she was knocked from her position by a wave which swept her backwards, under the guardrail and overboard. She had not been clipped on and was swept away in strong winds. The crew used the signal from her personal AIS transmitter to locate her in the water and then recovered her on board, but were unable to resuscitate her after an hour in the water. Race organisers confirmed that Young would be buried at sea because of her boat's current position, and the time it would take to reach landfall.

    Discovery of 'ghost ship'

    On January 31, 2016, while on Race 7 from Australia to Viet Nam,the LMAX Exchange came across the private yacht Sayo, dismasted and adrift about 470 nmi (870 km) west of Guam. On investigation, the body of owner Manfred Fritz Bajorat of Germany was found dead aboard the yacht "in an advance state of decomposition". On reporting the finding to authorities and being unable to provide any further assistance, the LMAX Exchange was permitted to continue on its way. The yacht and occupant were later discovered by fishermen in the Philippine Sea and made international headlines for the macabre nature of the discovery.


    Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Wikipedia