Hawaii’s the next stop for Clipper race
In an era when people are being shuttled back and forth between Earth and a laboratory in space that circles the globe at some 17,000 mph, it shouldn't be too surprising that often the general public is less than captivated by the dramatically slower circumnavigations of sailors.
Still, according to the organizers of an around-the-world yacht race currently on a course for Hawaii, their sort of globe girdling isn't exactly an everyday occurrence as there have been more people who have climbed Everest than have raced around the earth under sail.
The yachts that are now headed our way from China -- albeit somewhat slower than 17,000 mph -- are competing in the sixth running of the Clipper Round The World Race, a brainchild of Britain's renowned yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop around the world alone.
Clipper '07-'08, as it is called, began when 10 identical 68-foot racing yachts left Liverpool, England, on Sept. 16, 2007 on their first leg to La Rochelle, France. Subsequent legs have taken the fleet progressively to Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Singapore and China.
The fleet will eventually sail about 35,000 miles and stop at 14 ports before finishing back in Liverpool, they say, on July 5 of this year. Points are awarded for each boat's order of finish at the end of each of the 14 races and the yacht with the highest total at the end wins the Clipper '07–'08 trophy.
Each of the yachts has been named after a sponsoring city or territory and has a professional skipper. The boats are crewed by up to 17 non-professional "pay-to-play" sailors ranging in age from 18 to 71, and they come from 27 nations and all walks of life.
"Everyone who takes part in the Clipper Race has their own reason for doing so," Knox-Johnston said. "Some to experience the adrenaline rush that comes with taking on nature in the raw, some to push themselves further than they thought possible, and others to compete in the largest global yacht race in the world."
The yachts are now on the race's longest leg -- nearly 3,000 miles from Qingdao, China, to Honolulu -- and should arrive in the Ala Wai Harbor in about two weeks.
And thanks to a cooperative effort by the Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs, the Magic Island Petroleum Fuel Dock, and the state's Division of Boating and Ocean Resources, the fleet will have accommodations for its six-day stopover here.
This will give the yacht crews time to take care of various maintenance issues, stock up on food, and of course, take in a few of Waikiki's many attractions.
The public can visit the race's Web site at www.clipperroundtheworld.com to keep up with the latest news of the race and to follow its future progress once the fleet casts off for Santa Cruz, Calif., its next port of call.
From Santa Cruz, the finishing legs of the race will take the fleet to the Panama Canal, then on to Jamaica, New York, Nova Scotia, Ireland, and finally back to Liverpool.