The 2019–20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced.
“This decision has been in no way taken lightly. Our crew are currently under quarantine in Subic Bay, Philippines, where the Clipper Race fleet has been berthed since Sunday, March 15,” said the Clipper Race Organizing Committee. “The fleet was due to race across the North Pacific Ocean towards Seattle.
However, with the city currently in a state of emergency and travel and medical insurance restrictions in the United States, we could not allow our teams to depart without a viable destination.”
Legs 6, 7 and 8 outstanding in the epic 40,000-nautical-mile sailing race will be postponed for approximately 10 months, when the remaining circumnavigation will be completed, the committee said. The timing of the postponement allows the fleet of 11 Clipper 70 ocean-racing yachts to avoid adverse weather patterns on the remainder of its global route.
Bermuda is a Team Partner and Host Port for the race, which would have seen the fleet visit the island this July en route from New York to the finish in the United Kingdom. Hamilton is one of 15 host ports, along with Portimão, Portugal; Cape Town, South Africa; Fremantle, Australia; and Qingdao, China. Under the Clipper Race partnership with Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), two Bermudian ambassador crew were also slated to sail aboard the island’s debut entry, GoToBermuda, on different race legs.
“We support this decision, made for the health and safety of all involved amid the current coronavirus crisis,” said Victoria Isley, BTA Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. “We will now work with Clipper Race and local partners to shift our activation plans so we can bring this exciting event to Bermuda in 2021.”
Bermuda’s two ambassador crew chosen for Legs 7 and 8 are invited to join the race when it resumes next year. Matthew Stephens, 18, an Endeavour Community Sailing programme instructor, was to sail Leg 7 from Seattle through the Panama Canal to New York, while Chanara Smith-Rookes, 20, a private in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, would sail the final trans-Atlantic leg from New York via Bermuda to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and on to the finish in London. Both recruits passed rigorous preparatory training required by Clipper Race rules late last year.