Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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Approaching the starting line on a leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 12 June 2008

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a sailing race around the world in 8 legs, with trained amateur crew members. The organisers own a fleet of identical yachts, the Clipper 70, and provide qualified skippers to lead each team. Crew can either sign up for the whole race, or one or more legs. The race was conceived in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who founded Clipper Ventures plc as a company to run the race. 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.[1]

In contrast to the slightly older but now defunct Global Challenge the Clipper race uses lighter, faster boats and the route follows the prevailing currents and winds. The current fleet of yachts are 12 Clipper 70 yachts first used in the 2013-14 race. The race has used two other previous classes of yacht comprising 8 Clipper 60s and 10 Clipper 68s. The inaugural race did not feature sponsor's branding. In 2000, The Times newspaper came on board as title sponsor with some yachts being sponsored by international cities. The last race, held in 2015-16 had yachts sponsored by international cities as well as yachts sponsored by varying organisations.


The race was conceived in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston[2] 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 origins of the term "Clipper" in the race name comes from the historic tea clippers. 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.[citation needed]


Teams competed for the Times Clipper 2000 trophy, made of lead crystal.[3] In 2015 the trophy was replaced with the Clipper 'Race Globe' trophy.

Race Crew[edit]

Since 1996, the Clipper Race has taken more than 4,000 people from all walks of life and turned them into long distance racers. Almost 40% have no previous sailing experience.[2] Around 40% of the crew are female.[2] There is no upper age limit.[2] 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[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]


Clipper 60[edit]

Clipper 60 Specifications[7]
Hull type Monohull
Builder Colvic Craft
Displacement 24,000 kg
Designer David Pedrick
Engine Diesel 130 hp, Perkins M165
Length Overall 59 ft 11 in (18.26 m)
Length Water Line 52 ft 3 in (15.93 m)
Beam 15 ft 7 in (4.75 m)
Draft 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)
IRC Handicap 1.067 (2011)

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.[8] 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,[9] but all have now been sold (for example Antiope now operates as a charter yacht based in Iceland).[10]

Yacht names[edit]

Clipper 60 Yacht names
Sail number Callsign MMSI 1996 1998 2000 2002 # Podium placings New owners
GBR61L MWEG5 234295000 Taeping Taeping Plymouth Cape Town[11] 1 Owned by Lewis Learning Ltd. Bought in March 2017 to replace Chrysolite scuttled in the Atlantic in February 2017. Previously owned by Blue Box Sailing.[12]
GBR62L MWEF5 235009160 Ariel Ariel London London 3 Sold February 2012 to buyer in Hong Kong. Now "Rizhao", sail number CHN 060626[13]
GBR63L MWED5 234293000 Thermopylae Thermopylae Leeds Hong Kong 0 Discovery Sailing Project[14][15]
GBR64L MWEB5 234292000 Mermerus Mermerus Jersey Jersey 3 Bought by a private owner and converted to cruising yacht,[16][17] then purchased by Blue Box Sailing in December 2014.[18]
GBR65L MWEA5 235011100 Serica Serica Bristol Bristol 2 Blue Box Sailing
GBR66L TFAQ 251771000 Antiope Antiope Liverpool Liverpool 2 Now "Aurora" owned by Borea Adventures[10]
GBR67L MWDY5 234289000 Chrysolite Chrysolite Glasgow Glasgow 1 Scuttled in Atlantic Ocean 11 February 2017.[19][20] At the time of loss it was named "Clyde Challenger" and owned by Lewis Learning Ltd.[21] Several previous owners.[22][23]
GBR68L MWDX5 235009170 Blackadder (did not compete) Portsmouth New York 0 Now "Hummingbird", owned by Rubicon 3

Clipper 68[edit]

Clipper 68 Specifications
Hull type Monohull
Rig Masthead Cutter
Builder Shanghai Double Happiness Yacht Co. Ltd
Displacement 31.2 tonnes
Designer Dubois Naval Architects
Length 68 ft (21 m)
Mast height 89 ft 7 in (27.31 m)
IRC Handicap 1.246 (2010)[24]

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 build 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[edit]

Clipper 68 Yacht names
Hull # Sail number Callsign MMSI 2005 2007 2009 2011 # Podium placings
CV1 GBR9350T MGMX8 235021704 Liverpool Liverpool Edinburgh Edingburgh Inspiring Capital[25] 0
CV2 GBR9351T MHAX6 235023621 Glasgow: Scotland with Style Glasgow Jamaica New York 2
CV3 GBR9353T MHBA9 235023623[26] Uniquely Singapore[27] Welcome To Yorkshire[28] 2
CV4 GBR9352T MGZR2 235023622 Uniquely Singapore Uniquely Singapore Cork (did not compete) 1
CV5 GBR9354T MHUD8 235026123 Jersey Jamaica Team Finland Gold Coast 2
CV6 GBR9355T MHUJ8 235026119 Durban Durban Qingdao Geraldton 1
CV7 GBR9356T MJVF8 235009370 New York Hull and Humber Cape Breton Island Uniquely Singapore 4
CV8 GBR9357T MJWC8 235009350 Qingdao Qingdao Hull and Humber De Lage Landen 0
CV9 GBR9358T MKJU6 235009770 Victoria New York Spirit of Australia Qingdao 2
CV10 GBR9359T MKHV5 235009780 Cardiff Nova Scotia California Derry 1
CV11 GBR9352T 2ESG8 235087742 (did not compete) (did not compete) (did not compete) Visit Finland[29] 1

CV5 and CV10 were delivered to Australia where they are used by Clipper Ventures for crew training. CV1 and CV11 are for sale.[30][31]

Clipper 70[edit]

From Clipper 2013 onwards, the races feature the Clipper 70, designed by Tony Castro Naval Architects. The fleet of twelve Clipper 70s were built in Qingdao, China in a project headed up again by Jeremy Knight for use in the 2013-14 race.[32]

Clipper 70 Specifications
Hull type Monohull
Rig Masthead Cutter
Builder Nauticstar & Mazarin Yachts, Qingdao, China
Displacement 31.7 tonnes
Designer Tony Castro Naval Architects
Length 23 m (75 ft)
Beam 5.65 m (18.5 ft)
Draft 3 m (9.8 ft)
Mast height 29 m (95 ft)

Yacht names[edit]

Clipper 70 Yacht names
Hull # Sail number Callsign MMSI 2013 2015
CV20 GBR720X 2GIE3 235097602 One DLL[33] Garmin
CV21 GBR721X 2GIE4 235097603 Henri Lloyd[34] IchorCoal
CV22 GBR722X 2GVY6 235100988 Qingdao PSP Logistics
CV23 GBR723X 2GQD9 235099583 Mission Performance Visit Seattle
CV24 GBR724X 2GVF2 235100807 Switzerland[35] LMAX Exchange
CV25 GBR725X 2GTZ4 235100519 Invest Africa Da Nang - Viet Nam
CV26 GBR726X 2GWE6 235101038 Great Britain[36] ClipperTelemed+
CV27 GBR727X 2GVW9 235100974 Team Garmin GREAT Britain
CV28 GBR728X 2GWP8 235101124 PSP Logistics Qingdao
CV29 GBR729X 2GWQ8 235101133 Old Pulteney[37] Derry-Londonderry-Doire
CV30 GBR730X 2GWS2 235101142 Derry-Londonderry-Doire[38] Unicef
CV31 GBR731X 2GWT6 235101154 Jamaica[39] Mission Performance


Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious leading the contestants in the 2011-12 race down Southampton Water to the start line off Cowes, IoW, 31 July 2011, as seen from Calshot Spit.

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.[40] The routes used for the races have varied slightly each race. The routes are selected to allow for a high proportion of downwind sailing, the most technically demanding point of sail. Other considerations include port stops in locations related to yacht or race sponsors.

The first race took place in 1996 with the Clipper 60 fleet departing from Plymouth for a westward circumnavigation with the first stop at Madeira, Fort Lauderdale, Panama, Galapagos, Hawaii, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seychelles, Durban, Cape Town, Salvador (Brazil), the Azores and back to Plymouth. The 1998 race largely followed the same route as the 1996 race. It was won by Alex Thomson, who was the youngest skipper to win a round the world yacht race at just 24. The 2000 race started 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 2002 race was the fourth and final circumnavigation for the Clipper 60 fleet. Three of the boats were renamed, and international cities Hong Kong, Cape Town and New York were added to the race. 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.

The 10 Clipper 68 yachts had their debut in the 2005-06 race in the first east to west circumnavigation. The boats were all sponsored by international cities for the first time incorporating stops in sponsor cities. was the first to feature the larger Clipper 68 yachts. 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 2007-08 race stopped at several different cities to the 2005-06 race due to different race sponsors but still maintained the east to west route. Two yachts were dismasted in the Pacific crossing with several crew evacuated via Coast Guard rescue.[41] The Clipper 2009–10 race started from Kingston upon Hull on the Humber Estuary on 13 September 2009.[42] The race was won by Spirit of Australia on 17 July 2010, when the yachts returned to Hull Marina for a gala celebration. On 15 January 2010, Cork Clipper ran aground on the Gosong Mampango reef in the Java Sea[43] The crew successfully evacuated the yacht and it was abandoned a few days later after the decision was made that any attempt to salvage her would be uneconomical.[44] A Challenge 67' yacht "Aurora of London" was chartered to replace the Clipper 68 yacht in the race.

The 2011-12 race was the last for the Clipper 68 yachts, departing from Ocean Village in July 2011. The race started in the Solent lasting almost a year and covering an estimated 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 km).[45] The race saw a number of injuries that required evacuation. Two crew were evacuated from Gold Coast Australia in Taiwan harbour after an attempted Coast Guard evacuation was abandoned due to inclement weather.[46] An incident on the Geraldton Western Australia yacht saw two injured crew evacuated from the yacht by US Coastguard Cutter Bertholf in the Pacific.[47][48]

The 2013-14 race was the first for the expanded fleet of 12 Clipper 70 yachts. For the first time 5 of the yachts were sponsored by companies rather than cities. The race set off from London's St. Katherine Docks in September 2013.[49] The 2015-16 race set sail on Sunday 30 August 2015, once again from London's St Katharine Docks. The race was once again sponsored by a mixture of cities and companies. The race saw the first fatalities in the history of the Clipper race, both on the same boat CV21.[50]


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 the start of the 2009-10 race 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.



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. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch carried out an investigation into both incidents and their subsequent report made a number of recommendations for improved safety onboard.[51]

Andrew Ashman

At midnight[52] 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.[53] The interim Marine Accident Investigation Branch report found that the injury took place during two uncontrolled gybes, with the boom swinging across the yacht due to a broken preventer.[54]

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.[55] Young was buried at sea because of her boat's current position, and the time it would take to reach landfall.[56]

Discovery of 'ghost ship'[edit]

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.[57]


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