For the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, more than 400 of the 650 crew members taking part, the largest ever assembled for the biennial event, attended the Crew Allocation ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall where they met their new team mates for the first time and discovered which skipper had been chosen to lead their team around the globe.
Crew members came from as far afield as Australia, China, North America and South Africa, as well as from across the UK, for the highly anticipated Crew Allocation Day. For many, this is where the reality of their participation in the event begins to kick in for the amateur crew who have already been in training for many months.
Sylvia Chahonyo, 38, the first Kenyan woman to ever take part in the race, flew in from Johannesburg, South Africa eager to find out which of the professional skippers she will be racing with, and to meet her equally excited team members for the first time.
'It’s been a fantastic experience, meeting people from so many different countries with varying levels of sailing experience and skills. My team is really excited to have Richard Gould as our skipper, he is already putting in so much work to make sure we all work hard and bond quickly as a team.'
The Clipper Race is the world’s longest at 40,000 miles and takes almost a year to visit 14 ports on six continents. It was established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1996, who became the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-9.
The 650 crew will be the first to compete on the newly commissioned matched fleet of twelve Clipper 70 ocean racing yachts. The ninth and largest edition of the race will start on Sunday, 1 September 2013.
Michelle Porter (37) from London was thrilled to meet her skipper Sean McCarter, and her team mates with whom she will spend 11 months circumnavigating the globe.
'Crew Allocation Day is a monumental occasion for every team mate and skipper. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous or excited about anything. From this day on these people will become my family, my friends and my crew. We will be living, breathing, sleeping, eating and of course racing together. Let the good times begin.'
With a skipper and team in place, strategies start to take shape, roles are assigned to the crew and, with exactly 16 weeks to go until the race start, the countdown is on.
Matt Mitchell (26) from Berkshire and the youngest of twelve skippers competing in the Clipper 13-14 Race, was excited to meet his team and weigh up his competition.
'I was pretty terrified stood on that stage in front over 400 people, but it was a great feeling to announce in front of our rival teams who I will be circumnavigating the globe with. Right now we’re focussing on building our team but it won’t be long until we’re talking tactics.'
Sir Robin Knox Johnston, founder of Clipper Round the World Yacht Race knows from experience, that this weekend is when the competition really gets underway.
'Crew Allocation is extremely important for all twelve teams. This is where you start to build the foundations of your team; you establish your tactics and goals. Although race start is still several months away, be assured the competition is already under way.
'This is the ninth edition of the Clipper Race which has trained nearly 4000 people over the last 18 years to participate in what must be the world’s greatest ocean adventure. I am very proud of our record and the impact we’ve had in changing people’s lives through this unique experience.
'We have record numbers of crew participating in our latest generation fleet of new one-design Clipper 70 ocean racers. They will all achieve something remarkable, racing across oceans and, for some, a circumnavigation.'
The crew, made up from over 40 different nationalities and representing more than 250 different professions, will be taking part in the ninth edition of the biennial event. At 40,000 miles it is the world’s longest ocean race. The Clipper 13-14 Race will start on Sunday, 1 September from a UK location which will be announced at the end of the month. For further information about the race visit Clipper Round the World.