The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet has departed The Netherlands in the final stage of the world’s longest and toughest ocean race, which returns to London this Saturday (12 July) after covering more than 40,000 miles between six continents over eleven months.
Race 16 of the global series got underway at 1330 local time (1130 UTC) today, 10 July, off the Dutch coast near Den Helder for the 250 mile North Sea sprint to London, UK. The teams are expected to have a closely fought battle on their hands as the matched yachts go head-to-head to secure maximum points and improve their standings on the overall leaderboard.
The teams are due back in the UK on Saturday morning in a spectacular Parade of Sail up the Thames followed by the prizegiving in St Katharine Docks by Tower Bridge.
Jamaica Get All Right was first over the line, followed by Henri Lloyd and GREAT Britain in third with all teams flying spinnakers in 15 knots of wind.
Simon Talbot, skipper of home port entry GREAT Britain, in second place overall, said: 'Everyone has mixed emotions about it being the last race. It has been nearly a year of mine and the crew's lives with many of highs and lows.
'We have been through every kind of weather system with two hurricanes, a tornado that knocked us down, the frustration of the Doldrums and we even spotted a piece of iceberg.
'The crew are really pleased with where we are on the leaderboard and have high expectations on this final sprint too as we are sailing into my backyard - the Thames Estuary.
'Being the British boat we are very motivated to have a good crack at this final race home into London.'
Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: 'It is fitting that the fleet finishes on the River Thames where their adventure started.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston - Clipper Ventures
'In the intervening months the crews have crossed all the world’s oceans, suffered the frustrations of the calms, the apprehension of the largest waves to be seen anywhere on the planet, experienced the vagaries of the weather systems, seen ports and scenery that they never expected, met people from vary different cultures, and, perhaps most of all, shared all these adventures with a group of people who were strangers just over a year ago but who will now remain friends for life.
'Throughout this, their knowledge and experience has grown to the point that they have become good seamen and competitive sailing boat racers, the sort of person anyone is happy to have in their crew.
'They have widened their horizons and have memories to cherish that can only be won through real hands-on participation.'
Henri Lloyd, skippered by Canadian Eric Holden, will officially be crowned the winner of the Clipper 2013-14 Race at the prizegiving ceremony in St Katharine Docks after the team’s fifth win and ninth podium overall into The Netherlands last week meant it could not be beaten.
The teams will be fighting for the final vital leaderboard points up for grabs with eight yachts still able to move up or down places.
The fleet’s progress can be tracked through the Clipper Race Viewer here