Please select your home edition
Edition
Allen Brothers
JOIN THE RACE JOIN THE RACE MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL SOUVENIR RACE MAGAZINE Check out the latest photo galleries from The Clipper Race
UNICEF ABOUT UNICEF

Experience an engineering marvel: The Panama Canal

by Clipper Round the World Race 30 May 2020 02:26 PDT
Clipper Race - Leg 7 - Canal Transit © Clipper Race

For everyone taking part in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, the passage through the Panama Canal is a bucket list highlight.

"To be travelling through such an iconic piece of engineering, seeing the locks and the lock gates from the water, was an awesome experience; to be so close to massive ships as they move slowly into the locks in front or behind you was literally breath-taking. It was unbelievable to watch the canal linesmen as they throw the mooring lines from the side of the canal to the ships and to us, with pin-point accuracy." These were the thoughts of Race Crew Susan Went, after having experienced the Panama Canal transit on board Liverpool2018 during the 2017-18 edition.

The Panama Canal is renowned as a piece of magnificent engineering. The 50 mile artificial waterway connects the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean - cutting across the Isthmus of Panama. The Panama Canal is a popular feature of the Clipper Race circumnavigation, with the transit an experience on Leg 7 not to be missed.

As they traverse the canal, the 70 foot Clipper Race yachts take a break from intense racing and stand side-by-side with cruise ships and cargo vessels up to 104ft wide. Making their way from the Pacific Ocean, the Race Crew get to take in the crocodile-infested Gatun Lake, as they travel towards the Caribbean Sea.

Jane Loe, who was on board GREAT Britain during the last edition said: "Traversing from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Panama Canal was a wonderful experience. The GREAT Britain boat was rafted together with Unicef and HotelPlanner.com to go through the locks just behind a huge cargo ship. Having visited the Panama Canal Museum a day before and knowing some of the history (a canal through the Isthmus had been considered since the early 1500's, was started by the French in 1870's and then abandoned, only to be picked up in 1903 by America under the Presidency of Teddy Roosevelt) made it especially interesting."

Since its opening in 1914, over 1 million vessels have used the waterway and it is used from cargo ships hundreds of metres long to passenger vessels. In 2019, 13,785 Vessels and 252,390,291 tonnes of cargo accessed the canal. Some of the regular commodities being carried are grain, coal, minerals and metals, containerised cargo, crude oils, fuel and during each edition a fleet of racing yachts.

Due to the logistical demands the Clipper Race fleet is booked in advance once the route has been confirmed and is a fixed window in the circumnavigation schedule.

An average crossing takes approximately 8-10 hours but can take longer depending on lock timings and availability of pilots who step on board to help navigate the canal. Within a day, the crew will have gone from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, here they will wait for the fleet to complete its transit before commencing racing once again into the Caribbean Sea.

After finishing the 2017-18 race, circumnavigator Phil Whittaker whilst marvelling ocean racing, also listed the Panama Canal as one of his lasting memories saying: "We have been privileged to have sailed the world's oceans, and we have experienced the highs and lows associated with doing this. By contrast we have been fortunate enough to see some of the wonders of the world. Nights so clear that even with no moon you could see by the starlight. Seas so wild and big in the Pacific that made our small boat seem like the only safe place in the world. An endless array of sea life and not least of all, the man made marvel of the Panama canal."

Is it on your bucket list to experience the Panama Canal firsthand? Learn more about Leg 7 and what the other legs offer here as applications for the 2022-23 edition are open.

For more information visit www.clipperroundtheworld.com.

Related Articles

Meet the Clipper Race crew: Carola Göhlich
A Clipper Race poster on the London Underground was her inspiration A Clipper Race poster on the London Underground was the inspiration for Carola Göhlich, who hails from Switzerland, to sign up for Leg 1: The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg. Posted on 8 May
Clipper 2019-20 Race to restart in February 2022
Postponed race will eventually restart from Subic Bay We have made the difficult decision to postpone the restart of the Clipper 2019-20 Race. Posted on 28 Apr
Clipper Race: When the fog rolls in
Sailing offshore can be challenging yet beautiful For those lucky enough to know, sailing offshore can be challenging yet beautiful. The freedom that sailing affords takes you to different places, both geographically and mentally. Posted on 14 Mar
Meet the Clipper Race crew - Denis Nikolaytsev
Denis signed up to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the Clipper 2019-20 Race Despite having no previous sailing experience, Denis Nikolaytsev, 35, signed up to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the Clipper 2019-20 Race. Posted on 7 Mar
Four hours should be plenty of time to cook...
Crew Perspective from the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race On Visit Sanya, we run a 3 watch system. The various support watches have a set task and for Leg 5 that task is done for the whole of the leg as there is a 2hr time change between Airlie Beach & Subic Bay so there is no opportunity to shift meal times. Posted on 13 Feb
One year on: The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival
A year ago, the Clipper Race fleet was welcomed by the azure warm waters A year ago, the Clipper Race fleet was welcomed by the azure warm waters and white sandy shores of the Whitsundays after spending 19 tough days at sea racing around the coast of Australia. Posted on 31 Jan
It is supposed to make me uncomfortable!
Clipper Race crew perspective As someone who had never sailed before the four weeks training, I cannot believe that I have been on the ocean as part of the crew for 13 days already! Posted on 10 Jan
Navigating the nerve centre of a Clipper 70
Nav station houses all the necessary instruments and systems to safely navigate the vessel If you care to venture down below deck on a state-of-the-art Clipper 70 racing yacht, follow the narrow corridor aft to either port or starboard. Posted on 9 Jan
Clipper Race crew member embarks on next adventure
Adventurer doesn't seem to be enough to describe 50-year-old Craig Forsyth Adventurer doesn't seem to be enough to describe 50-year-old Clipper Race Alumni Craig Forsyth. Craig, a bricklayer and former professional Rugby League player from York, UK holds the title for taking part in the most editions of the Clipper Race. Posted on 13 Dec 2020
Sir Robin rooting for Alex Thomson
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sends a message of good luck ahead of the Vendée Globe With the Vendée Globe 2020-21 set to begin, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, sends a message of good luck to the Clipper 1998 Race winning Skipper Alex Thomson ahead his latest campaign. Posted on 8 Nov 2020
RS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterReverso Air 2021 FOOTER