Skippers announced and sought

Clipper Venture reveal their ten international chosen few

Friday June 22nd 2007, Author: Heather Ewing, Location: United Kingdom
The ten international Skippers who will compete on the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race have been announced. Each will lead a crew of non-professional sailors aboard Clipper Venture's 68ft one design ocean racing yachts sponsored by international cities.

Race Director, Joff Bailey says: “I am delighted to announce the appointments of our team of Clipper 07-08 Race Skippers. They are a fantastic group of people with a huge amount of sailing experience between them. I have absolute confidence in them. We are very much looking forward to working with them as they race around the world.”

The 35,000-mile race sets off from Liverpool on 16 September 2007, stopping off at 14 ports en route before returning to Liverpool in July 2008 as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations. Crews on the race will be representing 25 nations and are drawn from all walks of life. Those taking part in Clipper 07-08 include a vicar, a farmer, a housewife, a doctor and a barrister. Approximately 40% of those taking part had never sailed before embarking on their comprehensive pre-race training.

The skippers come from all over the world, have thousands of miles of ocean racing in their log books have undergone a rigorous selection process before being chosen to take the helm of one of the ten Clipper 68s.

Hannah Jenner, 26, has been announced as the skipper of Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper. This will be the Scottish city’s fourth Clipper Race campaign, and Hannah is determined to steer them to a podium position in Liverpool in July 2008. The fact that she is the only female skipper won’t slow her down. “I use it as an advantage,” she says. “Other skippers quite often write you off and won’t see you coming because they’re busy concentrating on other people. I definitely want to win and beat the boys!”

Liverpool 08 Clipper will be skippered by Ben Galloway, 26, from Wrexham. Ben learned to sail with his father in North Wales and is now a self-confessed competitive yachtsman who has made sailing and racing big boats his hobby, as well as his career.

“It’s fantastic news that I’ve been selected to skipper Liverpool 08 Clipper,” says a delighted Ben. “Liverpool is my favourite city and it will be great to sail back in at the end of the race when it is the European Capital of Culture.  I have a lot of friends there and my godparents are from the Wirral.  I always try to visit the city whenever I’m home in Wrexham,” he adds.

Hull&Humber’s debut entry in the Clipper 07-08 Race will be skippered by experienced yachtsman, Danny Watson. “In May I was fortunate enough to be the delivery skipper of Hull&Humber for her naming ceremony in Hull Marina.  We also took her over to Grimsby for a visit and I was impressed by the overwhelming support the people have for the race on both sides of the river. I’m honoured to now act as an ambassador for the region,” says Danny.

The 36-year old from Beckenham, Kent, UK, brings with him a considerable amount of experience having circumnavigated the globe in the Clipper 05-06 Race. Appointed as a Race Skipper for a second time, he is keen to share his knowledge and experiences with his colleagues. “The decision to do this again was not one I took lightly,” says Danny.  “Being a skipper on a race like this takes a considerable amount of dedication and commitment, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”

Mark Preedy, 35, from Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, UK, has also been appointed as a Race Skipper for the second time, having stepped in as a relief skipper halfway through the Clipper 05-06 Race. He took that decision having been assured it would not affect his chances of becoming a Clipper 07-08 Race Skipper, which has been his goal for some years.

Mark, 35, has already become quite attached to his new charge, Uniquely Singapore Clipper, having skippered her to events in Scotland, the Isle of Man and Dublin, as well as the ceremony last month at St Katharine Docks in London to mark the launch of this campaign. “I am very proud to be chosen to be the Skipper of Uniquely Singapore,” says Mark. “It is so exciting to be associated with such a forward-looking nation, and I can’t wait to sail into the fantastic new Marina@Keppel Bay when the fleet stops over in Singapore.”

Durban Clipper will once again have a Durbanite skipper at the helm when she sails into her home port after crossing the Atlantic from Brazil. Ricky Chalmers, 46, discovered sailing comparatively later in life than his new colleagues, but that is not holding him back from being a seriously competitive yachtsman. This will be his second circumnavigation, having been a crew member on the 2004 Global Challenge race.

Born in the city and educated at Durban High School and the University of Natal, Ricky had a nail-biting wait to find out which boat he had been allocated to and is delighted with the outcome. “It’s quite a thrill really,” beams Ricky. “It’s my home port, I was born there, brought up there, my parents are still there and they’re super-chuffed about the whole thing!”

Marcus Cholerton-Brown is equally delighted to have been chosen as Skipper of Qingdao Clipper. The 37-year-old, who lives in Hong Kong, has had his sights set on leading the Chinese entry for some time. “It will be an honour to represent the city of Qingdao,” he says. “I have heard some wonderful reports about the welcome the fleet received during their visit in the Clipper 05-06 Race and I’m  really looking forward to seeing the new Olympic Sailing Village.” Qingdao will host the sailing events for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the Clipper Fleet will be berthed in the new, purpose-built Olympic marina.

British sailor, Jerry Crew, 42, has been appointed as skipper of the New York entry in the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race. This will be New York’s third campaign in the race and Jerry is determined to better the team’s third place podium position last time out. “I do want to win,” says Jerry, who is based in Poole on the south coast of England. “There are no prizes for second place, so winning is the only option!”

Jerry is thrilled to be taking the helm of New York Clipper as she sails past Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty. “It’s a fantastic boat to be on representing a prestigious city,” he says. “I’ve just been looking at where the boat will be berthed at North Cove Marina in Manhattan. The whole idea of actually racing in there is just awesome, isn’t it?”

Martin Silk, 38, from Australia has been selected as the skipper of Clipper. The Western Australian entry won the Clipper 05-06 Race so Mark has the unenviable task of building a team to retain the prestigious Clipper Trophy. “I can’t wait to meet my crew and get on with the challenge of retaining the trophy,” says Martin, who is also looking forward to the stopover in Fremantle, Western Australia, where the crews will spend Christmas before restarting the race on New Year’s Day 2008. “Fremantle has already proved itself as an excellent host port for the Clipper Race and it would make a great location for the ISAF Sailing World Championships,” he adds.

Reynald Neron is the first Frenchman to be appointed as a Clipper Race Skipper. It is another French 'first' for the race; when Clipper 07-08 stops in La Rochelle between 19 and 23 September this year, it will be the first time ever the event has included a visit to France.

The 36-year-old who was born in Nancy, France, and who has Australian dual nationality, says: “I’m getting excited about arriving in new places and getting the crew excited about the challenge they’re going to face. I’ve done many ocean passages, but I haven’t sailed around the world, so for me it’s also part of the excitement, something new, too,” he continues. “I can understand the excitement the crew feels and I can share it with them, which is also interesting for me.”

The elder statesman of the Clipper 07-08 Race Skippers is 50-year-old Simon Bradley. Although this will be his second circumnavigation, he has only been sailing professionally since 2003. Having sailed as a hobby for many years, at the turn of the millennium Simon resigned from his job of 20 years in order to compete in the Times Clipper 2000 Race. He was a Watch Leader on Bristol Clipper, completing the whole circumnavigation as part of the winning crew.
“I wouldn’t have considered it if the route and the boats had been the same as the last time I did it,” says Simon. “These boats are much bigger than the ones we raced in the Clipper 2000 Race and of the 14 ports we’re visiting on this race, I only went to three of them - New York, Hawaii and Salvador - the first time round.”

The Clipper Race was established eleven years ago by renowned yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who wanted to give ordinary people the chance to do something extraordinary by experiencing the exhilaration and challenges of ocean racing, until then the preserve of the privileged and the professional. This will be the sixth Clipper Race and to date more than 1,400 people have competed in the event. It is the world’s only round the world race for non-professional sailors and, for many, it is a turning point in their lives.

Sir Robin says, “To be a skipper in the Clipper Race is a great challenge. As much as it is a pivotal experience for the crews taking part, so it is for the skippers who lead their teams on this adventure of a lifetime. One of the core parts of this challenge is that it is not easy. But who is interested if you have done something that is easy? There is much greater satisfaction, and far greater respect, for the person who has achieved something that is really hard to do.”

Previous Clipper Race skippers who have gone on to successful sailing careers include solo circumnavigator Alex Thomson, currently preparing for the forthcoming Barcelona Race and the next Vendée Globe. With his Clipper 07-08 skippers in place Sir Robin has now begun the search for candidates to take charge of the yachts in the Clipper 09-10 Race. Anyone who is interested can email him at .

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