The first race of the eleven month long race, taking the Clipper crews from Liverpool’s Albert Dock to Cascais in Portugal, was rescheduled due to today’s extreme weather conditions, which saw storm force winds battering much of the UK.
The eight Clipper racing yachts, representing Liverpool, London, New York, Bristol, Glasgow, Jersey, Cape Town and Hong Kong will slip from Albert Dock at midday and proceed into Canning Half Tide Dock, before the gruelling 35,000-mile race begins in the Mersey at 14:30.
A 10-minute countdown will lead up to the big event, which will be started by 14-year-old Francesca D'arcy, a Liverpool city council competition winner.
And as a treat to those lining the Mersey, the yachts will pass the famous Pier Head in formation flanked by HMS Biter and Charger, training vessels for Liverpool and Manchester University. The international Clipper fleet will then race up and down the river three times, before heading out into the Irish Sea for the Cascais Stopover in Portugal and eventually onto Cuba on the first of the six race legs.
With the depression now to the south east, Clipper have assessed that the front will be clear of Liverpool by mid to late morning and have forecast some 30 knots north westerly breeze (force 6) for the 2pm start formation, to be led by the race’s guard ship HMS Sheffield in a sail past and gun salute - all within a stone’s throw of the Royal Liver Building. For the spectators, the skies are expected to clear after the front has passed over.
Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said: "This was a joint decision taken by Clipper and our partners in Liverpool. The safety of our crews and supporters is paramount and today’s advice was quite clear."
Captain Ron Telfer of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, added: "In light of the extreme conditions in the Mersey River and harbour entrance this was a very sound decision based on safety considerations."