Dutchman named 2013-14 Clipper Race skipper
GOSPORT, England _ The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has selected 12 skippers who will lead 650 amateur sailors in its 2013-14 edition due to start in September. Including the race’s first ever Dutch skipper, Patrick van der Zijden, and its 3rd ever female skipper, Britain’s Vicky Ellis, they were picked from 200 candidates.
Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston: “We have chosen an exceptional group of people who can look forward to being the first to race on the new fleet of Clipper 70s but the focus remains on motivating the crew and maintaining their safety while remaining competitive in all conditions.”
The 40,000nm event is held every other year. Organizers supply the 12 identical, 70-foot racers. Each is sponsored by a city, region or country. The race bills itself as a life-changing adventure in which amateur sailors _ from taxi drivers to CEOs to midwives _ cross the equator twice, ride warm trade winds and suffer winter storms together.
The Clipper-70 design is very fast with new features such as twin helms, 3 asymmetric spinnakers and a suite of Yankee headsails.
Van der Zijden, a Yachtmaster Ocean-certified sailing instructor, gave Zeilen Magazine a taste of the Clipper Race selection process: “In the first round, which covered theory, I was up against 200 others. From that group, 30 were selected for the trials. After a long, intense weekend I was happy to count myself among the happy dozen.”
The trials inevitably cover seamanship and the ability to manage a group of ocean-going newbies.
“At one point, out of the blue, a doll weighing 80 kilos was tossed overboard as we sailed on the spinnaker in Beaufort-5. Instantly, and on purpose, professional sailors became a panicky crew…It’s the kind of moment when leadership is as important, if not more so, than carrying out a routine man-overboard maneuver,” Van der Zijden told Zeilen Magazine.
The 12 Clipper Race captains hail from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland and Britain. The next race departs in September. Organizers expect a fast race. The new 70-ft craft carry more sail and plane more easily that the 68-ft craft used to date. Already 650 people have signed up, including 17 Dutch nationals. The Clipper Race takes almost a year to visit 14 ports on 6 continents. It was established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-9.
Below the 2013-14 Clipper Races’s “dynamic dozen” with Van der Zijden at left