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Clipper crews begin final leg of round the world race back to Southampton
THE crews of the gruelling Clipper Round the World Yacht Race yesterday began the voyage back to Southampton as they set sail across the Atlantic from Nova Scotia, Canada.
The fleet of ten identical 68ft racing yachts have some 3,000 difficult miles left to navigate on the final leg of the race before they return to Ocean Village for grand finale celebrations on July 22.
Sam Hall, 32, an analyst at Skandia in Southampton who left his job and home in the city to sail around the around the world as crew member on board the race yacht Qingdao, said: “It will be great to get back to Southampton and I am really looking forward to the welcome and seeing my friends and family that I am sure will be waiting for me in Ocean Village.
“It will also be sad in a way, as getting to Southampton means the race will be over. While it will be nice to get back into the comforts of normal life, I will miss the race and the camaraderie on board.”
Qingdao, named after Southampton’s sister city in China, is skippered by Ian Conchie, from Gosport, and is lying ninth overall, although could make up ground for a podium finish.
The Clipper race, the brainchild of legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, pits ten professional skippers against each other with crews made up of amateur men and women who can take part in one or more legs on the 40,000-mile race.
Hundreds of boats are expected to join a flotilla welcoming the teams back into Southampton Water, in scenes reminiscent of the celebrations when they set out from Hampshire ten months ago.
Then, thousands of people lined the shore to wave the sailors off on their epic voyage, and similar numbers are likely to join a huge party at Ocean Village to mark the end of the prestigious competition.