20th Anniversary Ball Raises Unicef fundraising Total to £330,000

17 October 2016

The familiar Clipper Race sailing attire was swapped for dinner jackets, bow ties and glamourous dresses this weekend in the sublime setting of the Great Room in the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

More than 600 crew and skippers, plus supporters, staff and partners from the years celebrated twenty years of the greatest ocean adventure on the planet, and helped raise our Unicef fundraising total to a staggering £330,000, with many proceeds still to be added.

On the landmark celebrations, Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “Myself and William are incredibly proud to be here with you all, celebrating the Clipper Race’s twentieth anniversary.

“I created the race as I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to experience what I, and very few others had been fortunate to experience. A circumnavigation is one of the toughest, but most powerful experiences you can have in life.

“The challenges of crossing an ocean, digging deep with your crew mates to reach a finish line in a race which often seems never-ending, and overcoming the fatigue of facing Mother Nature’s fiercest faces, provides you with an incredible opportunity to exceed ordinary human limits.

“Couple this with the incredible highs and jubilant celebrations that come with completing something that few people on this planet dare to experience and you know why the Clipper Race is so special. It is an achievement which lasts a lifetime. It can never be taken away from you, no matter how many years pass or how life continues,” Sir Robin added.

Guests enjoyed a sumptuous three course dinner ahead of an engaging charity auction which raised in excess of £80,000 for Unicef. The top lot of the evening, a sail for four people on board Suhaili with Sir Robin went for two bids totalling £20,000 after the successful first bidder paid £10,000 but then rather amusingly declared he got seasick easily and didn’t want to actually go out on the water, so re-entered the prize.

Lily Caprani, Unicef Deputy Executive Director, told the crowd: “The Clipper Race is where individuals challenge themselves to do things that are difficult, to overcome their fears and be courageous and to really go that extra mile, and they do it all around the world. That is very similar to what Unicef does in its aim to keep children safe around the planet so it makes perfect sense to me that we partner together and help to change other people’s lives in the process.

“We are incredibly grateful to Sir Robin and William who made this partnership possible and to everyone who has supported Unicef through the Clipper Race. We look forward to working more together as this fantastic partnership continues.”

Proceeds from the ticket sales, raffle, and interactive heads and shoulders game are yet to be added to the overall Unicef fundraising total.

During the evening, CEO William Ward, whose son Andrew was the youngest person to take part in the first race, said: “I was initially drawn into the Clipper Race based on the early crew applications and the overwhelming enthusiasm people showed towards the challenge.

“Over the years we’ve shared incredible achievements in outstanding places around the world and built a very exclusive network which feels much like a family in the process. Sir Robin has grown to be one of my closest friends over the years. Like any business, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, especially in the early years when we were working hard to get it off the ground, but whenever it seemed the world was against us we stood shoulder to shoulder. That sort of bond is hard to find.

“I thank all those who have dared to live a life less ordinary, our business partners who share our ambitions and have used our unique platform for incredible results, and our team who work tirelessly round the clock and round the world to provide this once-in-a-lifetime experience and help us to keep the race evolving on its journey.”

Familiar faces of the Clipper Race family unsurprisingly took the Clipper Race party spirit into full swing when Harry Hammersmith & the Flyovers got everyone clambering to the dance floor, before party band MadHen took over as the night continued and almost raised the roof of the Great Hall with its mad mash up style of classic and modern dance hits.

186 crew departed Plymouth for the Clipper 96 Race on Wednesday 16 October on board eight 60-foot yachts for a race route based on that taken by the historic tea clippers. Today, more than 700 people take part on a third generation fleet of twelve 70 foot yachts, and the race is also used as a powerful business platform for destinations and leading brands, but the raw experience and challenge is the same as crew pit themselves against Mother Nature.

Click here to see our Facebook gallery of images from the 20th Anniversary Ball.

Click here to see the video of the Clipper Race's historical story.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race, the eleventh race edition, starts next summer and is already 70 per cent full, with UK and international crew training each week on the Solent in Hampshire and at our Australian base in Sydney.

Crew can choose to sign up to either the full circumnavigation, or one or more of its eight race legs. Click here to find out more about joining the adventure.

Apply now