Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures
JOIN THE RACE JOIN THE 2017-18 RACE MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL SOUVENIR RACE MAGAZINE Check out the latest photo galleries from the Clipper 2015-16 Race
UNICEF ABOUT UNICEF

British female set to become youngest Skipper in Clipper Race history

by Amy Martindale on 16 Mar 16 March 2017
Clipper Race 2017-18 Skipper Nikki Henderson © Clipper Ventures

Nicola 'Nikki' Henderson, 23, from Guildford, Surrey, is set to make Clipper Race history after being selected as the youngest ever professional Skipper to lead a team in the 40,000-nautical mile Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.

Born on 26 July, 1993, Nikki will have just turned 24 when the race sets sail this August. She takes over the 'youngest Skipper' title from recent Vendee Globe runner up Alex Thomson who proved youth was no barrier to success when he won the Clipper 1997-98 Race at age 26.

On her appointment, Nikki said: "It feels great, I hope I can be an inspiration to other young people to go and achieve what they set out to, to push boundaries and go get what they want if they put their minds to it and work hard."

Sailing with family and friends since the age of 13, the idea of being able to work at sea was planted after a short stint in the Sea Cadets. Nicola has since carved a successful sailing career, in both racing and instructing which would rival those twice her age.

On feeling any added pressure, she says: "There is pressure for all of us to perform, but I am confident in my experience skill level and maturity."

Since 2006, Nikki has sailed 38,000 miles during which she has skippered three ARC races across the Atlantic (twice winning the Youngest Skipper Award), the Caribbean 600 - an inshore race circuit, two Cowes Weeks, and sailed over 10,000 miles in offshore deliveries. As an RYA instructor for over three years she has already taught over 200 students and also launched a Sailing and Watersports centre in Denver, Colorado.

Of the twelve selected Skippers, Nikki is one of two females, the other being Wendy Tuck, 52, from Australia, who also competed in the last edition of the Clipper Race. There are eight other British Skippers, who are; Rob Graham from West Sussex; Andy Burns from Skegness, Lincolnshire; former Royal Marine Lance Shepherd, from Blackpool; Conall Morrison from Derry-Londonderry; Rick Powell from Devon, former Superintendent David Hartshorn from Chepstow, North Wales; Tristan Brooks from Bangor; and Roy Taylor, a former RAF officer from South Yorkshire. On the international side, Gaetan Thomas will be the race's first Belgian Skipper, and Chris Kobusch, is from Germany.

The Clipper Race is one of the world's toughest endurance challenges. 40,000 nautical miles long, taking almost a year to complete, this is the only event which gives amateur sailors the chance to sail around the world, taking on Mother Nature's harshest conditions. Fewer people have completed the Clipper Race than have climbed Mount Everest.

The Clipper Race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. This momentous biennial event has a deep passion for challenge and life changing adventure at its core. Since the first Clipper Race in 1996, almost 5,000 people have been turned into competent ocean racers.

Sir Robin said: "The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing. Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.

"Nikki has vast experience in offshore ocean racing and has impressed us all the way through her selection process. It is great to see such an accomplished female Skipper pursuing a competitive offshore career and I wish her, and all our professional Skippers the very best in the race."

All Skippers are now working full-time at the Clipper Race HQ in Gosport, Hampshire, where they will remain, leading crew training and making necessary race preparations.

The next major event in the race preparations is Crew Allocation, at Portsmouth Guildhall, May 20, where all Skippers and crew will be assigned to their teams for the first time.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race sets sail in August and will see teams first race across the Atlantic to South America; the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa; across the Southern Ocean's Roaring Forties to Western Australia; around to East Australia taking in the famous Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race en route; back into the Northern Hemisphere to Qingdao, China via Sanya; across the mighty North Pacific to West Coast USA; to New York via the famous Panama Canal; and then a final Atlantic crossing before arriving back to the UK in Summer 2018.

Read about all the Clipper 2017-18 Race skippers here.

Related Articles

Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 22
Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint results announced In the past 24 hours, HotelPlanner.com was the final boat to cross the finish line of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint and, after all boat times were calculated, was declared the winner taking three points. Posted on 22 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 21
Support streams in as treams count down to Fremantle As the Clipper Race teams look ahead to arriving in to Fremantle later this week, Skippers from across the fleet have expressed their gratitude on behalf of the crew for the messages from back home after a tough few days in the Southern Ocean. Posted on 21 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 20
Sombre mood across fleet as race continues Thoughts of love and support for the family, friends and crewmates of Simon Speirs remain at the forefront of the minds across the fleet today as GREAT Britain Skipper Andy Burns and his crew pay tribute to their lost team member. Posted on 20 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 19
A time of quiet reflection across the fleet Racing has taken a back seat over the past 24 hours for the Clipper Race fleet following the tragedy on board CV30 (GREAT Britain) yesterday. Posted on 19 Nov
GREAT Britain crew member fatality
Clipper Ventures saddened to announce Simon Speirs dies Clipper Ventures is extremely saddened to report the fatality of Simon Speirs, a crew member on board CV30, (GREAT Britain). Posted on 19 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 18
Race Leaders begin Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint Leaderboard standings across the fleet have stayed consistent over the last 24 hours as the leading teams began their Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Posted on 18 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 17
Sleigh Ride begins ahead of Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint Christmas has come early for the Clipper Race fleet which is finally enjoying the downwind sailing conditions that teams have been hoping for as they gear up for the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. Posted on 17 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 16
Teams await a wind shift It has been a pleasant day for the leading teams but teams are eagerly waiting for the stronger westerlies, which will carry them through the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint and then on to Race Finish in Fremantle, Australia. Posted on 16 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 15
Fast downwind conditions replaced by shifting winds Day 15 of Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race has seen mixed conditions for the Clipper Race fleet with fast downwind conditions being replaced by shifting winds and lighter airs for many teams. Posted on 15 Nov
Clipper Race Dell Latitude Rugged Race day 14
Spinnakers emerge as westerlies fill in The westerly winds that the Clipper Race fleet has been waiting for finally arrived for many of the teams as they pass the halfway mark of Race 3: The Dell Latitude Rugged Race to Fremantle, Australia. Posted on 14 Nov