Youngest Ever Clipper Race Skipper Leads Seattle Team to Victory in Penultimate Race

The Clipper Yacht, Visit Seattle arrives in First Place, in Derry-Londonderry on Monday after completing the LegenDerry transatlantic crossing from New York in the penultimate leg of the circumnavigation of the world. Picture Martin McKeown/Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. 09.07.18

Nikki Henderson, 24, from Surrey, U.K., has led her Visit Seattle team to an impressive victory in Race 12 from New York, USA, to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the penultimate race of the 40,000-nautical-mile Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race. Visit Seattle crossed the finish line on Monday 9 July to complete the 3,000-nautical-mile race across the North Atlantic Ocean, the fast-paced sixth and final ocean crossing of the 11-month circumnavigation, in just over 12 days.

On the win, Henderson said, “I am so proud of how hard my team worked to get this win. The crew never let up over the past two weeks and really deserve this result. We will certainly be celebrating the result in Derry-Londonderry but we all know the job isn’t done yet. The overall Clipper Race leaderboard is very close so the final race to Liverpool will be very exciting.”

Victory in the race from New York to Derry-Londonderry has set up a thrilling duel for the overall Clipper Race Trophy against Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, 53, from Sydney, Australia, with the pair now vying to be the first female winner in the 22-year history of the Clipper Race.

On the prospect, Henderson added, “It’s girl power! I try not to focus too much on the potential female one-two but I think that if it happened, it would be very special; special for Wendy, special for me and also for the industry, just to show people that we don’t have to be female sailors, we are just sailors, and male and female sailors are equal.”

This is the fifth time Henderson has led her team to podium success during the 2017-18 edition and the team’s third race win of the circumnavigation so far. One to watch, Henderson and the Visit Seattle team has still got their race-point-doubling Joker Card to play, which they have saved for the next and final race.

“We always talked about leaving it to play right at the end of the circumnavigation as we felt that as a team, we would develop and grow enough and it would make most sense to play it at the end,” Henderson said. “It’s familiar water for me so hopefully that will pay off.”

Team entry Unicef crossed the finish line just four hours behind Visit Seattle to claim second place and Garmin has secured the final podium position, coming in third place just 45 minutes behind Unicef.

The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains non-professionals to be ocean faring sailors. Established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, nonstop around the world, 40 percent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up and undergoing the compulsory four weeks of training.

In total, 711 people representing 42 different nationalities and from all walks of life are taking part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race. In Leg 8, the Visit Seattle crew represent six different nationalities  Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, USA, Canada  with the ages ranging from 26 to 66.

Following the stopover in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the Clipper Race fleet will depart for the final race, around Ireland to Liverpool, on Sunday 22 July. The circumnavigation will come to an end with a fast sprint up the River Mersey concluding outside the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool on Saturday 28 July.