The sailing team representing the city of Seattle, along with the ten other teams competing in the international Clipper Race, began their journey across the North Pacific Ocean towards its namesake destination, with a drive to be the first team to arrive into the Emerald City and to raise awareness about ocean health.

After a two-year delay caused by the pandemic, the Seattle team started its North Pacific quest yesterday as the Clipper 2019-20 Race fleet restarted from the Philippines. On the thirty-plus day and 6,100 nautical mile crossing to Seattle, the multinational crew could face 45-foot waves, hurricane force winds, and frigid temperatures.

Seattle is on its third consecutive edition as a Host Port and Team Partner with the Clipper Race, and the Seattle Sports Commission, the Port of Seattle along with tourism body Visit Seattle, are once again working to give the ‘Emerald City’ access to an international audience, especially once the Seattle, and the fleet arrive to a home crowd in Seattle after Race 10.

“Everyone on board the Clipper Race yachts are in for a fantastic experience as they sail into Seattle from mid-April”: said Beth Knox, Seattle Sports Commission President. “Our scenic views, the warm welcome from our local businesses, and the energy you feel from people enjoying our great outdoors and recreational activities will showcase the best of the Pacific Northwest. The Sports Commission and our partners are proud of the Seattle team’s efforts thus far, not only with the spirit of competition but also in their partnership to draw attention to climate issues affecting our oceans.”

The 13 Seattle crew competing on this leg are led by a professional Skipper and First Mate and represent six different nationalities. Two of those crew members, Arvin Vulliet and Marcus Cox, are from Washington State, and revel in the opportunity to sail into their home port and welcome the entire Clipper Race fleet to Seattle.

“The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race showcases the adventure, teamwork, and environmental focus that is at the heart of the maritime world,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck.  “We are thrilled to welcome the event’s Race Crew back to Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina from mid-April and cheer them on to their next destination.

Seattle team departing Subic Bay.

Race 10, named the ‘Sailing City · Qingdao Cup’ in honour of the Chinese city represented in this edition, got underway at 1200 Local Time (0400 UTC) by way of a Le Mans start just off the north coast of Luzon, Philippines. A Le Mans start involves the eleven-strong fleet lining up in a straight line under engine, with their mainsails raised and their headsails ready to go. Upon Race Start, the crew run forward to raise their headsails, with their competitiveness and enthusiasm to get ahead first making for an exciting start to the race.

The race will see the eleven teams in the Clipper Race fleet sail 6100 nautical miles across the North Pacific, the world’s largest and most remote ocean, home to some of the most challenging conditions sailors can face. The crew can expect enormous waves and huge weather systems, with hurricane Force 12 winds and waves of over 20 metres not uncommon. This stage of the race will make for some unbelievably fast and unique sailing during the crossing to Seattle and will take a little over a month to complete – with the event due to arrive into the city between 16-21 April.

Skipper David Hartshorn on Seattle was Lead Skipper for Race Start, and expertly corralled the fleet into position as planned and right on time. On starting the race this morning, David said: “It was quite a challenging line, with 22-25 knots from the northeast, and a moderate to rough sea with a northerly swell.

Zhuhai, GoToBermuda and Punta del Este all had good starts with their Yankees powering up quickly. After ten minutes the only change to the fleet was all the boats moved up to sailing a close-hauled course.”

Speaking about crossing the North Pacific, David added: “This will be my third North Pacific crossing, and for me, it is one of the last great wildernesses on the planet and an amazing adventure. I think one of the biggest challenges will be the feeling of remoteness that we will experience in crossing this ocean, but I’m really looking forward to it and the team is buzzing – and to sail to our home port town, Seattle, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

Seattle team photo before departing Subic Bay on March 20.

On Sunday, March 20, the Clipper Race fleet and Race Crew departed Subic Bay, Philippines, which was an emotional and electric day, following months of hard work and preparation by all for the restart. On leaving Subic Bay, the teams spent the past four days making their way up to the start line north of the island of Luzon, ready for a Le Mans start to get the race underway.

Commenting on the start of Race 10, Mark Light, Clipper Race Director said: “They are off! Race 10 is on, and it is absolutely awesome to see the Clipper Race fleet out there racing again. Thank you to Dave Hartshorn and all of the Skippers, AQPs and Race Crew for creating another amazing milestone in the Clipper Race.

“The crossing ahead will be huge. The Pacific Ocean is the biggest body of water on Earth, and with the depressions and strong winds that characterise the North Pacific, you will not get sailing like this anywhere else in the world. It’s one of those places that not many people get to go, let alone sail across. It’s hostile, but beautiful at the same time, and the crew can look forward to some really exhilarating sailing on this leg.”

Commenting on the challenge ahead, First Mate on Seattle, Hannah Brewis, added: “It’s incredibly exciting – and a bit mad. It’s my first North Pacific crossing and I’m ready for it. I have a few moments where I realise how big this challenge is, but it’s my dream to start off with the North Pacific Ocean. It’s a big one, and it’s going to be pretty incredible to get to Seattle. I think I’ll be super proud of myself, of the boat and of all the team.”

You can follow the Seattle team’s progress on the Clipper Race Viewer, which is live now. Visit Facebook and Instagram for the latest photos and videos of Race 10: Sailing City · Qingdao Cup.

Story and images courtesy of Clipper Round the World Race.