THREE Wye Valley sailors set off on the journey of a lifetime from Portsmouth harbour on Sunday - to circumnavigate the globe in the near year-long Clipper Race.
Siltbuster co-founder and Monmouth Rowing Club member Eric Froggatt will be racing against boats crewed by Old Monmothian 20-year-old Angus Whitehead (Yacht Club Punta del Este) and one skippered by former Metropolitan Police officer David Hartshorn from Chepstow (Bekezela Community Foundation).
Anf following final goodbyes on the pontoon and a spectacular Parade of Sail, the 11-strong fleet mustered at the start line ready for the cannon blast to start the Clipper 2023-24 Race.
Light conditions and the Solent’s strong tidal flow made for a particularly tactical start.
Eric, 57, who met sailing legend Robin Knox-Johnson at the official naming of their Ha Long Bay 70ft Clipper, last week, sailed a leg in 2018, but having endured a two-year delay due to Covid, this time he’s going all the way round.
And before setting sail on Sunday afternoon, he posted: “Race start TODAY!! A million emotions! Excitement, just a few nerves, concern for Lisa (his wife)...
“Yesterday whizzed by but we had a fabulous evening meal with family and friends, then popped by to say “Hi” to my 17/18 Visit Seattle Crew.
“The adventure is no longer a dream!
“Months of training (on and off the boats) and preparation are done – time to set sail!
“The first stop is Cadiz in Spain on the way to Punte-Del-Este in Uruguay to complete the first of eight Legs.
“Then, (barring injury!) having stopped at Cape Town, Freemantle, Newcastle and Airlie Beach in Australia), Ha Long Bay in VietNam (my yacht’s Sponsor), Zuhai and Qingdao in China, Seattle and Panama, Washington DC (8) in the US, we return to Oban in Scotland) Portsmouth in late July 2024.
“The straight line distance is about 40,000 nautical miles, so we’ll probably sail around 50,000 as we follow weather patterns and tack and gybe our way across the oceans.
“My team of 65 (nine “Round the Worlders” and the rest of the 20 odd crew made up of “Leggers” from a team of 65 range from 29 to 70 years old and from 21 nationalities!! – Very Cool, I think?.”
Whilst Sunday’s conditions made for a light start, the fleet can expect a real mix of conditions for the next 1,200nm to Puerto Sherry in Spain, with easterlies building to give some fantastic spinnaker runs down to Ushant.
You can follow the race and Eric’s blogs via https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings and see updates on Eric’s Facebook page.