Clipper Race announces skippers for 23/24 race

The 11 skippers set to lead their teams on the Clipper 2023-24 Race have been revealed.

Hailing from the UK, Uruguay, Portugal, South Africa and the Netherlands, the skippers appointed to lead their teams of amateur sailors have sailed over a million nautical miles collectively. This follows last month’s announcement that The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is set to resume after a two-year delay.

The global yacht race sees people from all walks of life take on the challenge of racing across the world’s oceans on board a 70ft yacht. Many of the race crew have no prior sailing experience before undertaking the intensive compulsory four-week training programme.

Max Rivers

Clipper Race says that becoming one of its race skippers is one of the highest accolades in professional sailing as well as one of the toughest jobs. Race skippers not only need the expertise to race across an ocean safely, but must possess the right combination of mentorship, coaching and people management skills to create a team of ocean racers from a group of diverse non-professional sailors. 

Clipper Race director Mark Light says: “Racing around the world brings huge responsibility and great demands. This is why we look for not only elite sailors and skippers, but also exceptional leaders and good people.”

Six of the 11 skippers selected were AQPs (additional qualified person, also known as first mates) in the 2019-20 edition.

Hannah Brewis has sailed competitively since her school years and completed the re-started Clipper Race 2019-20 as a first mate, logging over 30,000nm (nautical miles) through a career as an instructor and flotilla skipper, as well as her role as first mate on board Seattle for the second half of the 2019-20 edition. Netherlands-based Ineke Van Der Weijden completed the Clipper 2017-18 Race as a crew member, before going on to be AQP on WTC Logistics for the second half of the last edition.

They return alongside Daniel Bodey, Max Rivers, James Finney, and Fernando ‘Nano’ Antia Bernardez. Antia will be the first Uruguayan and South American race skipper on the race.

“Taking on the challenge of leading a crew from diverse backgrounds over an 11-month-long odyssey can be relentless but the rewards are extremely satisfying,” continues Light.

“On the sailing side, race skippers have to be highly experienced, well-qualified and experts in the field of sailing, navigating, racing, instructing and coaching. There is also related experience required in many other areas such as weather routing, yacht maintenance, incident management and most of all, safety. 

“Other skills that are less obvious, but equally important are the ability to mentor, support, team build, motivate and inspire others. And certainly not forgotten are the other subjects that are seldom talked about as being important on board an ocean-going yacht; clear communications, organised conflict resolution, medical experience, crew well-being and media capabilities.”

David Hartshorn has raced on three editions as both crew and a skipper, and returns alongside Josh Stickland, who led his team Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam to third place in the previous edition, and Portsmouth-based Mike Miller, who has completed two circumnavigations as crew, AQP and a race skipper.

Also joining the lineup is South African skipper, Ryan Gibson. Gibson’s sailing career spans 14 years, including two Atlantic crossings and expeditions to the high latitudes. British and South African skipper Gregory Hunt is new to Clipper. He has logged over 300,000nm including the Cape to Rio Race. 

All 11 skippers have now started at Clipper Ventures HQ, with months of intensive training ahead before the 2023-24 edition gets underway this summer. 

All images courtesy of imagecomms.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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