Ten new yachts are to be built for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Clipper Ventures round the world race fleet

When 180 paying amateur sailors set off on the 2005 edition of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Clipper round the world yacht race they will be aboard brand new Ed Dubois designed 68 footers. Ten new boats are to replace the existing fleet of eight Dave Pedrick 60 footers that have been in service since 1996 and will have already circled the globe four times when they are retired later this year.

The ten new boats are to be built by Shanghai Double Happiness Yachts Ltd at their 35,000 m2 facility on the Huangpu River. China is not well known for its yachts, however it is the third largest ship-building nation in the world. Double Happiness have been building trawler-style motor boats for several years, but have never built a sailing boat. Sir Robin visited the factory during the last Clipper race and, climbing down into the bilges, was impressed with the quality of their moulding and lamination. The Clipper 68 fleet will be built from one mould using conventional GRP and should take two years to complete. The completed boats will be shipped to England and rigged here.

Double Happiness has also agreed to sponsor the 2005 event to the tune of US$1,000,000. They will use the race to promote their expansion into the sailboat market. At the signing of the contracts, Sir Robin explained that the world of amateur yacht racing has changed. Competitors, who will pay around £28,500 to compete in all 16 legs of the 2005 race, are demanding greater challenges and more competitive racing, and this means faster boats. The new Clipper 68’s displace two tons less than the old 60’s and carry more sail. Together with the increased water line, this should make them significantly faster. They are also equipped with a coffee grinder winch system for faster line handling. 18 crew are carried, compared to 14 on the 60 footers.

With new boats, the Clipper 2005 race will also follow a new route. 36,000 miles will be sailed over 16 legs that will include both coasts of America, the Panama Canal, South East Asia, and, for the first time in a Clipper Race, the Southern Ocean between Australia and Cape Town.

Contact: Clipper Ventures, Tel: 02380 237088, www.clipper-ventures.com, hq@clipper-ventures.com