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International hunt is on for Clipper Skippers

by Clipper News on 21 Dec 2003

Clipper Ventures plc, the AIM-quoted ocean racing company, has today instigated a major international recruitment campaign to appoint ten international skippers for its Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race.

The Clipper 05-06 event starts from Liverpool (UK) in September 2005 and will follow the longest route of all round the world races. In a bid to secure the most qualified and proficient skippers for the race, applications are invited from men and women from around the world and across the sailing spectrum.

Racing on a challenging new East-about route, Clipper 05-06 breaks with the established format of the four races run so far. For the elite team of ten skippers who make the grade, Clipper Ventures’ fifth race offers the opportunity to take charge of the fastest round the world ocean racers in the competitive non-professional crew arena.

Clipper Ventures also today announced the appointment of Tim Hedges as Race Director for Clipper 05-06. Hedges (36), skippered “Chrysolite” to third place overall in the Clipper ’98 race before becoming Assistant Race Director for the company’s last two events. His predecessor Colin de Mowbray MBE becomes Operations Director.

As newly appointed Race Director, Hedges today launched the skipper recruitment campaign and will be conducting the initial interviews. He said: “This is a truly rewarding opportunity for the right person. He or she must be an exceptional role model, able to inspire a diverse crew through this marathon race. The skippers also play a pivotal role in the relationship between Clipper Ventures and our city sponsors, so we are looking for sailors of the highest calibre. They must be proven and outstanding leaders, communicators and problem solvers.

“With identical boats racing against each other, the difference between first and second place will rest entirely with the crews and their skipper’s ability to guide and motivate his or her team effectively as the fleet forges its way around the world. Being able to draw the line between competitiveness and safety, and motivating a tired crew into an enthusiastic and committed team, are essential attributes we seek in any potential skipper for our event,” said Hedges.

Ten new 68-foot racing yachts, from the drawing board of celebrated designer Ed Dubois and currently under construction at Shanghai Double Happiness Yachts, will contest the Clipper 05-06 Race; each adopted by an international city representing its nation. The first Clipper Dubois 68 will undergo trials in Shanghai, before being shipped back to the UK for commissioning in early Summer 2004.

On board each yacht will be one professional skipper and 17 crew, many of whom will have never sailed prior to their Clipper training and who will be cutting their offshore teeth for the first time on the 05-06 race.

Each team will comprise men and women from all walks of life and of all ages and nationalities, although recruitment will be primarily focussed on individuals from each competing nation. Liverpool (UK), Western Australia and Durban (SA) have so far joined the international line-up for the competition, which pits ten identical 68ft yachts against one another.

Clipper Chairman and first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, commented, “Sailing is a sport for all, where men and women can compete largely on level terms in the racing arena. We are seeking talented sailors, regardless of age, sex and race, to accept the challenge of skippering their boat to victory. Success in a sailing race is not just a matter of muscles, it also requires a great deal of tactics and determination - a true combination of push-ups and chess! We are really enthused by the new format for our Clipper 05-06 race and will look forward to meeting those people who believe they can fit the bill as part of the Clipper team.”

In addition to their RYA Yachtmaster Ocean with Commercial endorsement, applicants will require excellent interpersonal skills and a strong background in instructing. The skippers’ qualifications should also include some 30,000 logged sea miles, offshore racing experience with proven time in command, as well as practical maintenance skills and the ability to work to a set budget.

The ability to manage a novice team must be backed by a sound commercial awareness, enabling each skipper to balance the requirements of the race organisers, city sponsors and equipment suppliers with those of the crew members.

The skipper selection process is designed to ensure that applicants are sufficiently tested both on and off the water, resulting in the appointment of ten professionals able to effectively prepare their teams pre-start and to race safely and competitively around the world.

Initial trial sails, including 3-4 days offshore, will take place throughout March and April 2004 on board Clipper Ventures’ existing fleet of 60-foot yachts. A further assessment period then enables the potential skippers to have an involvement in the Clipper 05-06 crew training.

With the raised global profile of round the world racing, heightened by internet spectator opportunities, an intensive media training programme will also form part of the skippers’ induction at Clipper Ventures. A final shortlist of 20 skippers will be revealed in early April 2005, ahead of the grand announcement of the Clipper 05-06 race skippers and their reserves on 1st May 2005.

Previous Clipper races have provided an exceptional springboard, both in sailing and business, for skippers and crews alike. Alex Thomson became the youngest winner of a crewed circumnavigation on the Clipper ’98 event and went on to score business success at the helm of Formula 1 Sailing before launching his single-handed offshore racing career.

Thomson has since become Great Britain’s most aspiring male solo talent and will be on start line of the legendary Vendée Globe in November 2004. As recently as last week Thomson, sailing in the Defi Atlantique, set a new record for single-handed monohull distance in 24 hours (subject to WSSRC ratification) with an impressive run of 466 nm.

Skipper applications should be addressed to Tim Hedges at Clipper Ventures; contact +44 (0) 23 8023 7088 or thedges@clipper-ventures.com

Clipper Ventures will also have a stand at the London International Boat Show from the 9 - 18 January 2004 at the new location of ExCel in the London Docklands. Interested skipper candidates are invited to meet the Race Director and his team on the stand at N1734 in the North Hall.

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