Clipper Race fleet returns to Tower Bridge after 40k mile voyage

Clipper Race yachts pass under Tower Bridge

Clipper Race yachts pass under Tower Bridge - Credit: Archant

The fleet of yachts returned to a heroes’ welcome a year after a 40,000 mile ocean voyage.

Thousands of spectators lined the banks of the Thames to greet the 70ft vessels of the Clipper Race fleet as they sailed under Tower Bridge on Saturday.

The race saw a total of 670 crew members from 42 different countries battle hurricanes, survive a tornado, deal with medical evacuations and the rescue of a man who fell overboard in the Pacific Ocean for 90 minutes.

Yachts left London on September 1 last year each with amateur crews under the guiding hands of one seasoned skipper. Winning team Henri Lloyd was presented with the Clipper Race trophy at an awards ceremony in St Katharine Docks on Monday.

Canadian Skipper Eric Holden said: “It has been a life-changing adventure for the crew and I. the team’s drive, determination and strength has led us to exhaustion at times.

“Whenever I thought the team couldn’t be pushed any harder, they dug deeper through some of the worst sailing conditions I have ever seen on the planet.”

He added: “This is a very special moment for the team and I to be crowned champions.”

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race creates a magnificent spectacle on the Thames, showcasing our great river and London to a global audience.

“These 670 amateur sailors, including 75 Londoners, have done something extraordinary, in taking on the world’s oceans in the spirit of adventure that makes Britain and London great.”

The Clipper Race was created in1996 by legendary British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to give people from all walks of life and ages the chance to experience ocean racing.

Sir Robin, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968, said the crews “have widened their horizons and have memories to cherish that can only be won through real hands-on participation”.

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