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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

Grantham local skippers crew of non-professionals across North Pacific Ocean

by Clipper Race 29 Apr 08:24 PDT
Skipper Hannah Brewis © Clipper Race

"I didn't think when I was learning to sail on Rutland Water that it would one day eventually lead to me crossing the biggest ocean in the world as a skipper."

Hannah Brewis, a 27-year-old sailor, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, has led a team of non-professional sailors across the world's largest ocean, the North Pacific. Hannah, Race Skipper of the Washington, DC entry in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, and her crew have arrived in Seattle, USA after sailing over 5,500nm from Qingdao, China.

On arrival in Seattle, she reported: "It's quite a big ocean isn't it!

"This race is the ultimate test of endurance, perseverance and true grit. You have to keep going because you have to, but we kept going because we wanted to. We had such a good time; it was busy at times, but we came together, taking each day as it comes. When it's tough, you just focus on one watch at a time and try to enjoy the moment of being there in the ocean, the vastness of it, there are not that many people who have done it. Someone told me before that more people have climbed Everest than crossed the North Pacific.

Known to be one of the most inhospitable environments on earth, the North Pacific leg of the global race is known as 'The Big One'. It earns this title due to the extreme weather, which includes freezing temperatures and waves almost as high as the Hollywood Sign, but also because it is the most remote ocean crossing on the Clipper Race circuit. It is devoid of land mass and at certain points, the closest other humans are astronauts on the International Space Station.

Despite the length of the race, competition remained fierce, in the final few hours of racing mere seconds decided the positions. With Washington, DC finishing in ninth, ten seconds ahead of its closest competitor, Hannah recalls: "We have been close to PSP Logistics and Dare To Lead a lot this race, and a couple of weeks ago I said it was going to be close between us three, but I didn't think minutes would be how close. In the end, us and Dare To Lead were coming in exactly at the same time to the same point, as we were the stand on vessel [has right of way], they had to duck behind us and crossed ten seconds after. Which after 28 days, 6000nm race is crazy."

Reflecting on her experience leading and coaching a team 40,000nm round the world, Hannah explains: "You don't always fully absorb it as much as you should, but coming from the middle of the country, born in Leicestershire, grew up in Lincolnshire, couldn't really get more central, I didn't think when I was learning to sail on Rutland Water that it would one day eventually lead to me crossing the biggest ocean in the world as a skipper."

Founded by Sir Robin-Knox Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, round the world, the Clipper Race is a global sailing event. Taking eleven months to complete, over 700 crew aged from 18 to 75 from all walks of life and 45 nationalities embark on the Race of their Lives, signing up to one or more of eight legs, or taking on the full 40,000nm circumnavigation of the planet. Doctors race alongside farmers, tattoo artists and teachers, and many participants have never sailed before taking on the intensive, mandatory four-stage training programme required to take part in the race. All eleven teams are led by a professional Race Skipper, like Hannah, and a First Mate.

This, the thirteenth edition of the Clipper Race, started in Portsmouth UK on 3 September 2023 and it has so far visited, Puerto Sherry, Punta del Este, Cape Town, Fremantle, Newcastle, Whitsundays, Ha Long Bay, Zhuhai and Qingdao and has arrived in Seattle. From here teams will sail onto Panama, Washington, DC, Oban before finishing back in Portsmouth in July 2024.

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