The 40,000nm Clipper Round the World Yacht Race began this afternoon with the vessels due to start the race at 4pm. Teams from across the country have gathered to complete one of the greatest endurance tests in the world.
Mike Miller, of Old Portsmouth, is the Skipper leading the PSP Worldwide Logistics team yacht and said he’s honoured to represent his hometown on the voyage. He added: “I live in Portsmouth so this is my local town and I will be sailing past my house as we leave Portsmouth harbour.
"It will be slightly strange seeing it for the last time in nearly a year, but I am very excited to be on this journey.” Mr Miller said it’s the third time he’s took part in the clipper race – starting as a crew member in the 2017-2018 mission.
"It totally changed my life”, he added, “I went away and became a professional sailor and have come back as a professional Skipper ever since. Sailing is part of this city's blood - and part of mine, too.
"You face all sorts of challenges racing around the world – weather, wind and lots of unknowns. I love the wildlife out there. I'm so excited to see Albatross and whales again”
More than 700 people, aged 18-70, will be sailing 70ft ocean racing yachts across the world. This race edition will take in stopovers in Puerto Sherry - Spain, Punta del Este - Uruguay, Cape Town - South Africa, Fremantle, Newcastle and Airlie Beach - Australia, Halong Bay, Vietnam, Qingdao and Zhuhai - China, Seattle and Washington, DC - USA, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July, 2024, via Oban, Scotland.
Electricians, orthopedic surgeons, police sergeants, teachers, and even a mother-daughter duo, are all taking part – with 22 per cent of them not being able to sail prior to their rigorous training. The fleet will first race 1,200 nautical miles to Puerto Sherry, then head to Punta del Este across the Atlantic Ocean.
Sailors will have to contend with whatever conditions mother nature throws at them, from freezing temperatures and 40ft waves to blistering heats and calm tropics – taking them to some of the most remote and inhospitable places on the planet
The race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first individual to sail solo around the world in 1968-1969 without stopping. He expressed his pride about the 13th edition of the race.
“Since its inception, the Clipper Race has empowered ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary, transcending boundaries and instilling a deep sense of respect for our planet's oceans,” he said. “We are thrilled to see the Clipper 2023-24 Race begin in Portsmouth, where maritime history comes alive and is also the home of our event as we are based just across the harbour.”
Amanda Shehab, 56, from Wrexham, and her daughter Megan Allpress, 26, have become the first mother-daughter duo to sail round the world. Ms Shehab said: “I saw it and I immediately wanted to sail around the world. When you saw the crew getting off they just looked so pleased and proud of themselves for what they had done.
"I just want to be a part of it.”