A summer of success for women in sport continues with 65 non-professional female sailors returning to London last weekend after enduring everything Mother Nature served up during the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race.
Image: The Clipper Race teams departing for the last race back to London
After racing over 40,000 nautical miles around the world, the Clipper Race fleet of eleven identical 70ft racing yachts, carrying over 150 Race Crew sailing on the final leg, arrived back in London on Saturday 30 July, completing the epic circumnavigation and enjoying a huge celebration event at London’s Royal Docks.
Image: WTC Logistics, with more women than men sailing on board during the final race, arrives into London
Amongst those breaking records on the race was Elena Lee who became the first Korean woman to race across the North Atlantic Ocean when she took part in Leg 8 of the circumnavigation. Racing as part of an ambassador scheme on board the team yacht Imagine your Korea, Elena had no previous sailing experience before signing up.
Image: Elena Lee
The 3,000 mile race from Bermuda saw Elena and her crewmates encounter gale force winds and big seas. Elena said: “I’m the first Korean woman not only to sail across the Atlantic, but to also sail into the UK by boat, which is pretty amazing! I grew up just next to the river in South Korea, but I never thought about sailing, but now to cross an ocean, I never expected that before and still cannot believe it.”
Image: Crew member Rachel Burgess on board WTC Logistics
The Clipper Race’s global route is divided into eight legs and people from all walks of life can choose to sign up for any combination of legs. Of those who signed up to complete all eight legs, racing all the way around the world, 39% were female, with ages ranging from 19-75.
The multinational crew came from all walks of life – this edition saw women teachers race alongside chiropractors, students and interior designers.
Image: the Clipper Race fleet arrives into Royal Albert Dock, London.
Celebrating a unique experience of racing together was a mother and daughter duo, Melanie and Jasmine Morris, from Scotland who raced together on board the WTC Logistics team yacht to mark their 60th and 30th birthdays respectively – and Melanie’s recovery from breast cancer. Jasmine said: “To do the experience full stop is amazing but having mum there and experiencing everything together was so special. It’s so nice we got to share that. I’m so proud of both of us!”
Image: Mel and Jasmine meeting The Mayor in Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Reflecting on her highlights Melanie says: “We’ve had so much personal growth – a highlight for me was seeing the stars with no light pollution and the wildlife was amazing! It has always been my dream to cross the Atlantic and to do so in record speeds was exhilarating – we were like excited kids on board and to do it in a safe and supportive way with the Clipper Race was awesome.”
Jacqueline Kavanagh, from Ireland, who sailed with the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam team, which came in third place overall, said: “Without a doubt, the best part for me was the camaraderie between the crew. Yes, there has been amazing sailing and racing, and we won some races, but the friends who are behind me now are what I will take away and cherish for the rest of my life.”
Image: Jacqueline working hard on board
Finnish born Kiki Sheridan, who lives in Surrey, who now has 40,000nm under her belt said: “I’m so so happy to be back in London but it’s a mixed bag of feelings. I’ll miss the camaraderie the most – it’s an absolutely awesome team. As a Round the Worlder, I’ve had the opportunity to sail with eight different teams.There’s lots I’ll miss.”
Image: Kiki (3rd from right) celebrating with her team on stage in London
Female representation was strong amongst the professional First Mates who worked alongside the professional Race Skippers to lead their respective teams. They included Ineke van der Weijden and Angela Brandsma from The Netherlands, and Maisie Bristow, Hannah Brewis and Mary Vaughan-Jones, from the UK.
Image: Hannah Brewis
Hannah Brewis, who raced on board the Seattle team, had a message for women who might like to get into sailing: “There isn’t just one skill you need in sailing – not just strength, or just intelligence – there’s so many things that make a good sailor. It’s about using your own strengths.”
Image: Circumnavigator Bettina repairing a sail.
Over the past eleven editions of the Clipper Race, thousands of women from all over the world have been introduced to sailing and trained to be ocean racers.
Applications for the 2023-24 race are open now, sign up here, and join the tribe of incredible women who have the race on their list of achievements. Find out more about what the role of an AQP and Clipper Race Skipper entails via the Clipper Race Careers page.