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Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race skippers announced

by Danielle Wickham 18 Mar 2023 08:05 PDT
The eleven Clipper Race Skippers © Clipper Race

The eleven skippers set to lead teams of amateur sailors from all walks of life around the globe has been revealed.

Hailing from the UK, Uruguay, Portugal, South Africa and the Netherlands, the skippers appointed to lead their teams on the Clipper 2023-24 Race have collectively sailed over a million nautical miles collectively and bring a vast range of experience and expertise.

The global yacht race sees adventurers from all walks of life take on the exceptional challenge of racing across the world's oceans on board a 70ft yacht. Many of the Race Crew have no prior sailing experience before undertaking the intensive compulsory four-week training programme, and go on to tackle some of the most challenging conditions that Mother Nature can serve up.

Becoming a Clipper Race Skipper is one of the highest accolades in professional sailing, and certainly one of the toughest jobs, as Race Skippers not only need the expertise to race across an ocean safely, but must possess the right combination of mentorship, coaching and people management skills to create a team of ocean racers from a group of diverse non-professional sailors.

Having impressed the Clipper Race Officials with their growth and racing expertise, six of the eleven Skippers selected were AQPs (Additional Qualified Person, also known as First Mates) in the 2019-20 edition. Hannah Brewis (26, Grantham) has sailed competitively since her school years and completed the re-started Clipper 2019-20 Race as a First Mate, and Ineke Van Der Weijden (49, The Netherlands), completed the Clipper 2017-18 Race as a crew member, before going on to be AQP on WTC Logistics for the second half of the last edition. They return alongside Daniel Bodey, Max Rivers, James Finney, and Fernando 'Nano' Antia Bernardez, who will be flying the flag for Uruguay and Portugal as the first Clipper Race Skipper from each country respectively.

David Hartshorn (58, Wales) has raced on three editions of the Clipper Race as both crew and a skipper, and returns as a familiar face alongside Josh Stickland (35, Southampton) who led his team Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam to third place in previous edition, and Mike Miller (54, Portsmouth) who has completed two circumnavigations as crew, AQP and a Race Skipper.

Also joining the lineup is Ryan Gibson (34, Cape Town SA) who has a sailing career spanning 14 years, including two Atlantic crossings and expeditions to the high latitudes, and Gregory Hunt (35, South Africa) who having sailed since he was born, has logged over 300,000nm including the Cape to Rio Race.

Clipper Race Director Mark Light said: "For a professional skipper, circumnavigating the globe can be seen as a pinnacle in their chosen career and that alone makes this job attractive. However, racing around the world brings huge responsibility and great demands. This is why we look for not only elite sailors and skippers, but also exceptional leaders and good people.

"Taking on the challenge of leading a crew from diverse backgrounds over an eleven-month long odyssey can be relentless but the rewards are extremely satisfying. On the sailing side, Race Skippers have to be highly experienced, well-qualified and experts in the field of sailing, navigating, racing, instructing and coaching. There is also related experience required in many other areas such as weather routing, yacht maintenance, incident management and most of all, safety.

"Other skills that are less obvious, but equally important are the ability to mentor, support, team build, motivate and inspire others. And certainly not forgotten are the other subjects that are seldom talked about as being important on board an ocean-going yacht; clear communications, organised conflict resolution, medical experience, crew well-being and media capabilities."

All eleven skippers have now started at Clipper Ventures HQ, with months of intensive training ahead before the 2023-24 edition gets under way this summer.

The eleven Race Skippers are:

Hannah Brewis, 26, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, raced dinghies from a young age but having been introduced to large racing yachts when she was a teenager, has been set on building her career as a Professional Skipper. She has logged over 30,000nm through a career as an instructor and flotilla skipper, as well as her role as First Mate on board Seattle for the second half of the 2019-20 edition.

Ineke van der Weijden, 49, from the Netherlands has sailed 70,000nm. Ineke switched careers from an International Consultant to a professional sailor after completing the Clipper 2017-18 Race as crew. Since then, she has raced on Legs 6-8 as an AQP on the last edition, alongside being First Mate on the Our Isles and Oceans sailing programme. Having completed every leg except Leg 3, Ineke is ready to tick off a full circumnavigation, this time leading a crew around the world as a skipper.

Daniel Bodey, 32, from Rayleigh, Essex, sailed dinghies and cruisers from a young age around the East Coast of the UK. Dan joined the Clipper 2019-20 Race on Unicef as a circumnavigator and quickly progressed to watch leader, then AQP for the second half of the edition, whilst logging over 50,000nm in the process.

David Hartshorn, 58, originally from Cardiff and now residing in Milton Keynes first joined the Clipper Race as crew in the 2015-16 edition. After circumnavigating the globe covering different legs as a Clipper Race Skipper for the previous two editions, Dave is ready to come back and lead a team to complete the race from start to finish.

Gregory Hunt, 35, British and South African, is new face on the Clipper Race. He has participated in many offshore races and crossed the Atlantic a total of 23 times on boats ranging from 40 to 130 feet in length, five times as skipper. Having the ability to remain calm and manage the most precarious scenarios with confidence will be an advantage for Greg when skippering his team around the globe. Being selected as a skipper is one of Greg's greatest achievements.

Fernando 'Nano' Antia Bernardez, 33, Uruguayan and Portuguese, from Punta del Este. Having progressed from Clipper Race Crew on the 2017-18 edition to a First Mate on the previous race, Nano has a whole host of racing experience. Along with a little over 1.5 circumnavigations, he has logged some mileage on notable events such as the Fastnet Race and the Rolex South Atlantic Circuit. He will be the first Uruguayan and South American Race Skipper on the Clipper Race, bringing a competitive edge alongside his love for adventure.

James Finney, 28, from Southampton returns as a Clipper Race Skipper after completing the Clipper 2019-20 Race as an AQP on Zhuhai. James has also skippered on the Knox-Johnson Cup in 2022, and worked as a Training Mate at Clipper Ventures HQ. He has clocked up over 65,000nm in his sailing career through the Clipper Race and additional work in Greece and the BVIs as a sailing instructor.

Josh Stickland, 35 from Southampton and now living on the Isle of Wight, returns to lead a team for the second consecutive edition of the Clipper Race. First taking to the water aged 10, it was with the Prince's Trust support that Josh qualified as a Watersports Instructor and he has never looked back. The professional sailor has worked all over the globe on yachts and superyachts, but the pull of the Clipper Race was too strong. Josh will be building on his strong coaching and team development skills, teamed with his experience of over 150,000 nautical miles at sea, to deliver a competitive campaign during the 2023-24 edition.

Mike Miller, 54, living in Portsmouth, is a highly experienced sailor who has over 110,000 nautical miles (nm) recorded in his log book, Mike is returning for his third consecutive Clipper Race. Leaving the corporate world behind, Mike was Race Crew during the Clipper 2017-18 Race and returned as AQP and subsequently Race Skipper during the 20190-20 edition. Whilst Mike knows that winning races is just one aspect of the Clipper Race experience, he is looking to build on successes in previous editions and has a focus on performance success and will be putting up a tough and ambitious fight for the podium spots.

Max Rivers, 29, was born in Scotland and raised on the Isle of Wight. Having joined the Clipper 2019-20 Race from the restart as an AQP, Max returns to the 2023-24 edition as a Race Skipper. He skippered the Great British Paddle support yacht on an expedition to circumnavigate the UK and has near to 30,000 nautical miles under his belt. Max has travelled around the world, working as a sailing instructor in countries such as France, Greece and Australia.

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