The PSP Logistics Panama Cup, race 11 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, set sail today with San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge providing the perfect backdrop for the 12-strong fleet of identical matched 70-foot boats.
At 1300 local time (2000 UTC) the leading yachts crossed the start line off the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay and raced under the bridge towards the Pacific Ocean for the 3350 miles to Panama. Derry~Londonderry~Doire crossed first and took the advantage ahead of Henri Lloyd and Old Pulteney third.
This is the 11th race in a series of 16 in the Clipper Race series. The fleet arrived in San Francisco last week after a gruelling 5,600 miles nonstop leg across the northern Pacific from China. This next leg is a coast-to-coast challenge to New York consisting of three races via Panama and Jamaica.
Race Director Justin Taylor said: 'This race down to Panama should be fast, but it’s not over until the finish line is crossed in the Gulf of Panama, as changeable conditions near the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone), or Doldrums, could decide the finishing positions in the final stages of the race.
'The Californian Current flows south, but the helping hand this gives the fleet can be counteracted by heating effects from the North American land mass, which might change the winds unfavourably.'
Race 11, for the PSP Logistics Panama 100 Cup, is a very tactical stage from California to Panama and will take approximately three weeks to complete; it sees the teams transit the Panama Canal in its centenary year before starting Race 12 to Jamaica.
Team PSP Logistics, skippered by Chris Hollis, is vowing to win this stage of the Clipper Race because of the world-famous canal's importance to its global logistics business sponsor.
PSP Logistics and its North American west coast partners in San Francisco and Seattle are regular users of the Panama Canal, to ship project cargos, boats and superyachts, and so the entire team feels a special connection with this leg of the race.
Skipper Chris Hollis said: 'We know how much this means to the PSP Logistics team in the UK and around the world so we are going to move heaven and earth to bring the cup back for them. We've got a great crew and with support like this, everyone on board is going to be working day and night to be the first into Panama.'
PSP Logistics managing director Frank Dixie added: 'We really want to win this one. The Panama Canal is a lynchpin of global trade and an important route for PSP's out of gauge cargos like project and marine as well as for moving boats around the globe.
'These are at the absolute heart of our business and something we specialise in, so the canal is a key part of our operation. We are determined to be the first to get there. It's our mission.'
Meanwhile, determined British sailor Andrew Taylor (46) rejoined his crew aboard Derry~Londonderry~Doire to continue racing despite being rescued from the freezing waters of the north Pacific earlier this month after spending a life-threatening 90 minutes lost at sea after falling overboard in a storm.
He has recovered from shock, hypothermia and a badly bruised leg which, although still sore, has not deterred him from continuing with the race after getting a clean bill of health from medics and race officials in San Francisco.
Race 13, Jamaica to New York, concludes the US coast-to-coast leg in New York at the beginning of June.
This is the ninth edition of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which left London on 1st September last year and will finish back there in front of Tower Bridge this summer on 12 July. It was created in 1996 by legendary British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to give people from all walks of life and ages the opportunity to experience ocean racing including the option to complete a full circumnavigation.
Sir Robin became the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world 45 years ago this month, when he completed the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race on 22 April 1969 aboard his 32ft ketch Suhaili. At 75 the grandfather of five is still sailing competitively and will take on another transatlantic solo race this autumn in his open 60 yacht Grey Power. Clipper Round the World