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Four team partners announced for Clipper Race skippers

by Clipper Ventures 20 May 01:59 PDT

The first four Clipper Race Skippers to be allocated to their respective teams for the upcoming 2023-24 edition have been announced:

  • Josh Stickland- Skipper on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Max Rivers - Skipper on Our Isles and Oceans
  • Greg Hunt - Skipper on Qingdao
  • James Finney - Skipper on Zhuhai

The Clipper 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 Race Crew have no prior sailing experience before undertaking the intensive compulsory four stage training programme, and go on to tackle some of the most challenging conditions that Mother Nature can serve up. Each Skipper and First Mate is allocated to a team yacht, sponsored by a Team Partner, which they will represent as they lead Race Crew to iconic ports around the world.

Assigning a Race Skipper to a team is a detailed process that requires a lot of consideration, taking into account a range of factors including leadership styles, previous race history and personality.

Josh Stickland - Skipper on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam debuted as a Team Partner in the Clipper 2019-20 Race, and has returned for the 2023-24 race edition as a Team and Host Port Partner. Josh Stickland is back for a second time to the crew on board the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam yacht.

Josh is an experienced skipper with over 150,000 nautical miles under his belt. He started sailing at the age of ten, and with the Prince's Trust and UKSA's support Josh qualified as a Watersports Instructor and has never looked back.

He has worked all over the globe on yachts and superyachts up to 110m, but the pull of the Clipper Race was too much to resist for the former Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper, who previously led his team to an incredible six podium places out of eight races, and third place overall, and sees him return for a second race as the Skipper of the Vietnamese team entry.

Mr Pham Ngoc Thuy, Director of Quang Ninh Tourism Department, talks of his joy at the news: "With a unique yacht design, the stories of the crew on their racing journey, and under the talented leadership of skipper Josh Stickland we are looking forward to great achievements throughout this race and we will be delighted to be continuously led by Josh."

Ha Long Bay is located in the Northeast of Vietnam, about 165 km from Hanoi. The UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area of 434 km2, comprising 775 islands, of which 411 have been named, and is filled with beautiful beaches and caves to explore. Ha Long Bay is home to an exceptional landscape, geology, cultural history and incredible food.

Skipper Josh Stickland said: "Ha Long Bay is renowned for its natural beauty and incredible rock formations, and it will be such an amazing experience to sail the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam yacht into its home port."

Max Rivers - Skipper on Our Isles and Oceans

The Scotland based Charitable Organisation, Our Isles and Oceans (OIAO) debuts as a Team Partner for the Clipper 2023-24 Race, with Max Rivers as their appointed Clipper Race Skipper.

OIAO works with their partners and organisations to achieve their key objective - to help young people build sustainable livelihoods through personal and professional development. They exist to help young people achieve life goals.

Max was born and brought up in Stirling, Scotland, and first started sailing on its western coast at the age of 13. Since then, he has travelled around the globe to various countries such as Italy, Greece, and Australia where he worked as a sailing instructor. He also skippered the Great British Paddle support yacht on an expedition to circumnavigate the UK. Now at the age of 29, he has almost 30,000 nautical miles under his belt with many more to come as he embarks on his circumnavigation around the globe.

The similarity between Max and OIAO isn't just Scotland. Max has a strong focus on developing skills for his crew and wants to be a facilitator, training them well so that by the end of the race, they are empowered to sail the yacht safely with minimal assistance from the Race Skipper and First Mate. Max wants to inspire crew to have sailing expeditions and adventures after completing the Clipper Race, using their skills learnt and continue to develop their seamanship.

Max said: "It is a great honour to be appointed as Clipper Race Skipper for the Our Isles and Oceans Team. I know the west coast of Scotland well, having spent a lot of my time there growing up and it is where I fell in love with sailing. What Our Isles and Oceans do for young kids is so inspirational and I can't wait to welcome the ambassadors and learn about their journey so far. It is going to be such an privilege to be part of their journey, and watch them grow"

Anthony Stodart, Our Isles and Oceans Director added: "We are simply delighted that Max Rivers is going to be our skipper. As a Scottish based, British entity supporting young people achieve their ambitions, there is a synergy with everything we are about. Max was brought up in Stirling, now lives on the Isle of Wight, is 29 and has already skippered a Great British yacht. With a 50% strike rate of podium finishes in the last race, if that isn't inspirational Great Britishness for someone his age, we don't know what is! We look forward to being further inspired when he adds to his podiums tally as Skipper of the Our Isles and Oceans British entry in the Clipper 2023-24 Race."

Greg Hunt - Skipper on Qingdao

Following Qingdao's victory in the 2019-20 edition, the Chinese Sailing City is set to return as a Host Port and Team Partner for the next two editions of the Clipper Race. South Africa Greg Hunt has been appointed as the Skipper of Qingdao, for the upcoming 2023-24 edition and will lead his team of non-professional crew, including the recently selected Qingdao Ambassadors, around the globe.

A highly accomplished racer, Greg has over 200,000 nautical miles in his log book and has completed a number of high-profile regattas over his impressive career, such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex, Copa del Rey De Braces de Epoch, The Laura Piana, Superyacht Cup Palma, Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, Cape Town to Rio Race, among many others. 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. Joining the Clipper Race family is one of Greg's greatest achievements.

On being selected, Greg said, "I'm really proud to be representing the Clipper Race's longest standing Host Port and Team Partner as the Skipper of the Qingdao yacht on this edition. Qingdao has so much heritage as China's Sailing City and I'm very excited to have been picked to lead the team.

"Sharing nautical knowledge and experiences with others is part of my sailing passion. I really enjoy teaching and understand the importance of conveying information and instructions in a calm and professional manner. I want everyone to be happy and ready to try their best. It'll be great to meet and start working with the recently selected Ambassadors too, I'm sure they will bring good energy to the team. It will be a privilege to help lead them to become ocean racers."

Greg's goal is to achieve great results in the safest way. After winning the Clipper 2019-20 Race, Greg hopes to continue the Qingdao team's success.

Among the Qingdao Race Crew will be a number of Qingdao ambassadors, who have been selected to not only develop into ocean racers, but to represent the Sailing City, famed for its diverse food scene, vibrant nightlife and world-famous Tsingtao beer. The Clipper Race fleet will sail into Qingdao in March 2024 as part of the Mighty Pacific Leg. Following the stopover, the eleven teams will race from the Sailing City across the North Pacific Ocean to the USA.?

James Finney - Skipper on Zhuhai

The Zhuhai team will be led by British sailor, James Finney, who has a wealth of experience and has already completed one circumnavigation when he competed on the global sailing race as First Mate, also on board Zhuhai.

This is the second edition that China's city of Islands has partnered with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Not only will a team represent Zhuhai as it races around the globe, the eleven strong fleet of Clipper 70 ocean racing yachts and its intrepid crew will visit the city in the spring of 2024.

James, 28, who is from Southampton, on the South Coast of the UK, started to learn to sail on his own from the age of ten and went on to be a dinghy instructor. After completing his Professional Yachtmaster Ocean qualification, he completed two seasons in Greece and worked out in the British Virgin Islands as a Charter Skipper and Instructor.

James has already circumnavigated the globe as First Mate, also referred to as AQP (Additional Qualified Person), on board Zhuhai on the 2019-20 edition. James also skippered for the Knox-Johnson Cup in 2022 where his team placed second. The sailor has also been a Clipper Race Training Skipper, instructing crew who will be competing on the upcoming edition.

James said: "It's a real honour and a privilege to be leading the Zhuhai team in the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race. Having circumnavigated as First Mate on board Zhuhai during the last edition, it's very exciting to have the opportunity to carry on with that relationship and be part of the ambassador programme for this race as the Skipper.

"My First Mate and I are looking forward to experiencing the hospitality of Zhuhai itself when we finally arrive in the city next year and to flying the flag for Zhuhai around the world and achieving some good race results along the way!"

In just two days on Saturday 20 May, Josh, Max, Greg and James, and the seven other Race Skippers and eleven AQPs will meet their Race Crew at Crew Allocation at the Portsmouth Guildhall. Following Crew Allocation, Race Crew will complete their training with their respective Race Skippers and AQPs throughout the summer. The Clipper Race Start Weekend is scheduled for 2-3 September.

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