The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race departed Seattle on April 28 for its leg to New York via the Panama Canal, and Brit Simon Parker is racing the fleet across America on his bicycle
The international Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams departed Bell Harbor, Seattle, on April 28 in front of crowds watching the Parade of Sail from the shore. A large flotilla of boats from local yacht clubs also watched the parade while a flying display was put on by pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor in her Boeing Stearman plane.
A fireboat also saluted the amateur teams as they prepared to head out to start Race 10, of the 14-race global series, the PSP Logistics Panama Cup; one of two races that comprise the six weeks US coast-to-coast leg via the Panama Canal to New York City.
Big crowds had gathered by the marina including family and friends who said their their emotional goodbyes and wave off the teams during a departure ceremony which included the US Navy Band Northwest which opened the ceremony with the US national anthem before playing a selection of music as the teams boarded their yachts ahead of the 4208 nautical mile long race to Panama.
Visit Seattle crew member Emily Bambridge said ahead of the next race to Panama:
‘We have been welcomed to the city like we are honorary Seattleites. People are really interested to hear about our journey and experience on the race to get here. It’s really great to be able to go home and talk about Seattle. Now we are ready to start the next race to New York via the Panama Canal.’
LMAX Exchange crew member Junior Hoorelbeke spoke about the stopover and the race ahead to Panama before he left:
‘After a rough time on the last race we needed looking after and Seattle has been extremely hospitable. The next race is a long one – the next shower I have will be in New York! We have had a big change in crew so it will be completely different.’
Claire Chapman, a crew member on GREAT Britain, said it was going to be a very tactical race with lots of difficult decisions for the teams to make on how close to stay inshore or whether to head further offshore for the stronger winds.
‘It could really shake up the standings. If some of the lead boats decide to stay inshore and that’s a mistake it might give an opportunity for other teams to take some bigger points on the scoreboard, there is still all to play for. Anything could happen.’
After motorsailing the 120 nautical miles to the official race start location overnight, the fleet will have a Le Mans start at 1500 local time on Friday 29 April near Tattoosh Island.
At the same time, Simon Parker, 29, from Oxford, England is aiming to race the Clipper fleet to New York by bicycle over a distance of 4,000 miles. Having first started sailing just six months ago and never having cycled more than 1,000 miles prior to this, Simon arrived in the US less than a week ago after completing the tough Pacific Ocean Leg of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, from Qingdao, China.
‘Sailing across the Pacific was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. The power of the sea and the magnitude of the storms we encountered were truly frightening and beyond what I imagined,’ said Simon.
On the next stage of his challenge, a 4,000 mile solo bike ride from Seattle to New York, starting today, he adds:
‘Whilst I may not face the same storms on the bike, I know that this next stage of the journey is going to be absolutely gruelling, both psychologically and mentally. It is going to be an unforgettable experience in so many ways.’
The cycle ride, which he will complete unaided, will take Simon across 12 different states and take approximately six weeks to complete. In an added layer to the challenge, Simon will be racing his former team Clipper Race crew who will be aiming to beat him to New York, the final port in the US Coast to Coast leg of the Clipper 2015-16 Race.
Once in NYC, Simon will re-join his Clipper Race team and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In his final challenges, he will cycle race the yachts from Northern Ireland to Holland, then sail to London in a 36 hour sprint to the Clipper Race Finish at Tower Bridge on 30 July.
On what has motivated him to take on this challenge, Simon said:
‘People may think I’m crazy for attempting this, and maybe I am a little, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw it as an amazing opportunity for a unique travel challenge. I¹ve got to spend the next two months doing something so why not this?’
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the planet in 1968-69, is the only event of its kind which trains amateurs like Simon to race across the world’s oceans. 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew, who come from all walks of life, have never sailed before they sign up and start their extensive training.
Simon will be blogging about his experience here and on his cycling journey across the USA and live tweeting at @SimonWIParker. Simon will be raising awareness of the Clipper Race’s official charity Unicef by meeting local projects and more information can be found at his website: www.simonwparker.co.uk.
The states Simon will pass through are: Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York.
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