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Cape Town to host Global Sailing Race as Seattle revealed as team entry

by Kathryn Pridie 10 May 22:03 PDT
Clipper 2019-20 Race © Bruce Sutherland

A trio of announcements have been made by the Clipper Race today regarding its upcoming 2019-20 edition including a new Host Port Partner, as well as a team entry and its Skipper.

Organisers have revealed its epic 40,000 nautical mile route will include a stopover in Cape Town in late 2019, the tenth time as Clipper Race host city.

And after its second place in the previous edition, Seattle has been confirmed as team entry in the Clipper 2019-20 Race with experienced British sailor Ben Keitch revealed as the Skipper leading the team in the epic global adventure.

This follows the confirmation that the Whitsundays would be a Host Port in the global sailing event's Australian Coast-to-Coast Leg.

The two newly announced Host Port Partners will each mark significant milestones in the eleven month circumnavigation. The fleet of eleven 70-foot yachts will arrive into Cape Town and the Whitsundays after racing 10,000 and 20,000 nautical miles (nm) respectively.

Regarded as one of the world's toughest challenges, the Clipper 2019-20 Race takes almost a year to complete. It is the only event of its kind which trains everyday people to make six ocean crossings, covering six continents, testing them to their absolute limit. Fewer people have sailed around the world than climbed Mount Everest, and with 40 percent of crew having no previous sailing experience before signing up, the achievement is all the more incredible.

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who last month celebrated 50 years since becoming the first person in history to sail solo and non-stop around the world, says: "The Clipper Race crew will enjoy some of the most breathtaking arrivals into these host cities.

"From seeing Table Mountain in Cape Town emerge on the horizon after weeks at sea, to navigating the beautiful 74 islands of the Whitsundays, these will be Stopovers the crew will never forget."

The Clipper 2019-20 Race is set to be the most international edition in the event's 23 year history. There are currently 44 different nationalities represented in the 700 men and women taking part, including eight South Africans, 60 Australians, and 76 from the USA.

The first quarter of the ocean adventure will end in Cape Town which will celebrate its tenth Clipper Race crew stopover. The fleet will berth at Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, situated in South Africa's oldest working harbour in the shadow of the magnificent Table Mountain. This is always a popular stopover for crew as Cape Town boasts the best of both worlds - a vibrant city framed within a stunning natural landscape.

The race across the South Atlantic into Cape Town has historically seen some of the closest finishes and tightly fought battles of the entire circumnavigation. There was just over 15 minutes between first and second in the last edition, despite a two week long race across the South Atlantic Ocean. With two Skippers from Cape Town taking part in the Clipper 2019-20 Race, it is all to play for to secure home port line honors. All teams will be looking forward to their reward - a cool glass of the region's famous wine.

The eleven teams will reach the halfway point of the race when they arrive into the Whitsundays. The tropical 74 island Wonder, situated on the Far North Queensland coast, the Whitsundays has world class sailing conditions set amongst the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. Airlie Beach will be a welcome place for the crew to relax and recuperate ahead of the second half of the circumnavigation.

The visit in early 2020 will coincide with the second Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival. Organised by Whitsundays Regional Council, the carnival will build on the success of the event in 2018, which injected almost $2 million (AUD) into the local economy. Whilst in the Whitsundays, the fleet will be berthed at the Five Gold Anchor Global Accredited and award winning Abell Point Marina - soon to be rebranded to Coral Sea Marina Resort - at Airlie Beach.

This will be the third consecutive edition Seattle has been a Team Partner. And it will once again see a collaboration between race organisers, the Seattle Sports Commission and Visit Seattle. The team entry will showcase the 'Emerald City' as an ecotourism destination and focus on ocean health and environmental sustainability.

Experienced British yachtsman Ben Keitch has been revealed as the Seattle team Skipper for the 2019-20 edition. Seattle is coming off a second place result in the Clipper 2017-18 Race so all eyes will be on the team to see what they can achieve this time.

Professional sailor and adventurer Ben says he is living out a childhood dream after being appointed a Skipper in the global sailing race and is proud to lead team Seattle. Ben is the perfect fit to represent the city, known for the great outdoor environment found on its doorstep. Passion for adventure and challenging environments has long been part of his lifestyle. He once spent 18 months with British Antarctic Survey, has been a diving instructor for almost 20 years, and has also consulted on ocean rowing expeditions.

There are only a few more Host Port Partners for Clipper Race organisers to confirm. As well as Cape Town and the Whitsundays, the other previously announced host cities are Fremantle in Western Australia, along with Sanya, Zhuhai, and Qingdao in China.

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