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Clipper Race skipper and his amateur crew to star at national awards

by Julia Wall-Clarke on 23 Dec 2014
Henri Lloyd’s Canadian crew members - Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Clipper Round The World Yacht Race
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Vancouver-born professional skipper Eric Holden, the famous Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’s first ever Canadian skipper, has been named as a finalist for the most respected accolade in Canadian sailing, the 2014 Rolex Sailor of the Year Award.

Henri Lloyd’s amateur Canadian crew members, Morgen Watson (Calgary), Phil Driver (currently living in the UK), James Dick (Victoria, B.C), Fiona Garforth-Bles (Bragg Creek, AB) and Mike Jauncey (Toronto), have also been jointly awarded the prestigious Gerry Roufs Trophy for offshore racing, established in the memory of the internationally renowned Canadian sailor and single-handed offshore racer who was lost at sea in 1997.

Eric and his international crew members finished victorious over eleven other teams to win the famous Clipper 2013-14 Race when it finished in London earlier this year following the challenging 11-month, 40,000 nautical mile challenge, the only of its kind in the world for amateur crew.

Eric, who also works as meteorologist for the Canadian Olympic sailing team, says: 'It is great to see the team get a piece of the recognition that they deserve. I said all along that we would sail this race together and we would not have got where we did without their individual effort, dedication, and sacrifice. The whole team are deserving of this award.'

'Not until I came home to Canada did I see how avidly people were following this race and how much we were being cheered on. I am proudly Canadian, passionate about sailing, and honoured to be among the finalists for Rolex Sailor of the Year.'

Fiona Garforth-Bles, a nurse from Bragg Creek, Alberta, who raced the final two legs from San Francisco to New York via Panama and Jamaica, and then to the London Race Finish via Northern Ireland, says: I feel very honoured to get this award as I've always been a tremendous admirer of Gerry Roufs and remember only too well the day he tragically went missing at sea.

'I'm also very aware that this award is really for the whole crew who did such an amazing job working hard as a team to support Eric. Without our brilliant skipper we wouldn't be winning this! In my real life, I'm an oncology nurse so I would never have imagined it possible to win this award. A very big thank you to Eric, crew and to the Clipper Race for making it all possible.'

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the world’s longest ocean adventure and is also regarded as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet. Twelve teams compete against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts and only the skippers on each boat are professional.

The only event of its kind of amateur sailors, around 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before signing up for the challenge. Crew can choose to compete in either the whole circumnavigation or individual race legs and during the last race, 670 people took part in the 2013-14 race from over 40 different countries, racing in 16 individually scored races across 6 continents.

The Clipper 2013-14 Race started 1 September 2013 and finished on July 1 2014. As his team went from strength to strength during the race, Eric Holden was named Sail Canada’s Sailor of the Month for November 2013 and then April, May and July in 2014. He also won the Gerry Roufs Trophy at the 2013 Sail Canada Awards, for the second consecutive time.

The 2014 Sail Canada Awards, including reveal of the Rolex Sailor of the Year Award will take place on 6 February 2015, in Toronto.

We are currently recruiting crew for the 2015-16 and 2017-18 Clipper Race's. No previous sailing experience is required as full training is provided. To find out more about this unique adventure challenge and sign up to follow in Eric and the Henri Lloyd team’s footsteps, visit Clipper Race.

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