Vilamoura welcomes Round-the-World Clippers 3/11/2000
The eight clippers, each bearing the name of the British city that sponsored it – London, Leeds, Jersey, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Plymouth and Portsmouth – are manned by experienced and novice sailors, young and old alike, men and women who have taken a year off in their lives to rise to this ultimate challenge.
Seeing them off on Saturday were some of the Algarve’s most noted dignitaries, including RTA’s President Paulo Neves and Vilamoura Marina director, Constantino Jordan, as well as a host of journalists and a flotilla of sailing well-wishers. At Constantino Jordan’s invitation, Algarve Resident reporter Luís Coelho got an exclusive vantage point from which to view the start of the second race aboard what is reputed to be the fastest sailing boat in the world – the catamaran Club Med.
It was a slow start to the race as there was not even a breeze off Vilamoura, and the clippers tacked for a long time trying to overcome their inertia. The entourage was impressive. Almost everything that was sea-worthy at Vilamoura marina put to sea and the eight clippers were greeted by Sagres, Portugal’s flagship and itself a floating naval school, as well as the replica of the Vasco da Gama caravela, Boa Esperança, which sailed to India. The sprightly vessel showed excellent form even leaving the renowned Club Med catamaran in its wake. After an hour the clippers were slipping from view and as the Club Med turned back this journalist at least looked on longingly, for one moment caught in the rapture of the adventure and wanting to go with all the rest, sailing into the sunset.
The Times Clipper 2000 Round-the-World Race is the brainchild of Clipper Ventures, chaired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail round the world solo non-stop in 1969. This is the third Clipper Round-the-World Race, and the race takes place every two years. It involves experienced sailors and complete novices, giving an open-to-all-takers quality to the event.
The organisation was sound: Clipper Ventures managing director, Richard Cooper, said Vilamoura was an excellent first stop-over, one which they hope will be repeated.
The clippers have set sail for open seas going successively to Havana, Panama, the Galapagos islands, Hawaii, Yokohama (Japan), the mouth of the Yangtze and Shangai, Hong Kong, San Fernando (Philippines), Singapore, the Mauritius islands, Cape Town and then across the Atlantic once more but already on the return journey, to Salvador in Brazil, then New York City and back to Jersey. The final leg is just 120 miles long, back to Portsmouth, but “counts like one of the big ones” making for a thrilling end to the race.