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Father and son from Bedfordshire arrive into Washington, D.C, in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

by Clipper Ventures 20 Jun 12:19 BST
Father and son from Bedfordshire arrive into Washington, D.C, in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race © Clipper Ventures

Niel and Ben Holt from Maulden, Bedfordshire, have successfully sailed over 7,000 nautical miles from Seattle to Washington, D.C, navigating through the Panama Canal in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

This remarkable journey marks their participation in the penultimate leg of the race, which began last summer in Portsmouth, UK.

Niel, an IT consultant, and his son Ben, an emergency doctor based in Fremantle, Australia, are embracing the adventure of a lifetime. The Clipper Race, founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world, is an eleven-month Ocean Race. Over 700 participants from diverse backgrounds and 45 nationalities, aged between 18 and 75, embark on this rigorous race, which covers 40,000 nautical miles.

Despite living on opposite sides of the world, Niel and Ben chose to embark on this challenge together but compete against each other, each joining different teams.

Reflecting on their decision, Ben shared: "We signed up a few years ago, seeking an adventure we could share. Living in Australia while my dad is in the UK, we were driven by the excitement of planning something monumental together, especially after the long separation during the pandemic."

In the early stages of the race, Ben's competitive spirit was evident. "It's not entirely accurate to say that a lot of my motivation for this race is just to beat him," Ben remarked, "but there's definitely an element of truth to it!"

The father-son rivalry came to a head during Leg 7, which comprised two distinct races: Race 11: #SailConnected with SENA and Race 12: Come Sea DC Cup.

For Race 11: Ben's team started strong, however, Niel's team, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, showcased tactical prowess, ultimately securing a second-place finish.

Race 12: Saw the teams transitioning from the tropical waters of Panama, through the challenging Caribbean Sea, and into the unpredictable North Atlantic, Race 12 tested all crew to their limits, and this time, Ben's team, Our Isles and Oceans, edged out his father's team, clinching sixth place. Niel's team followed closely, finishing seventh, just 20 minutes and 45 seconds behind.

Arriving in Washington, D.C, was a moment of triumph and reunion. The convoy of racing yachts motored in together, marking a significant milestone for all participants.

Ben expressed his joy: "Arriving into D.C. was fantastic, especially since we all arrived in convoy. I got in first and had the privilege of welcoming Dad as his boat arrived. We shared a hug, some breakfast, and swapped stories from our respective races."

The Holts celebrated their achievements with some well-deserved relaxation. "We're currently enjoying a rooftop pool with a beer," Ben added. "We're already discussing more adventures, like sailing through the Caribbean, and I'm still trying to convince him to join me in hiking Kilimanjaro!"

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