Ask a question

Becoming a Race Crew Member
What is the Clipper Race looking for in a crew member?

There is no ideal person or typical crew member. We have had every age between 18 and 73 on the race and more than 40 nationalities ranging from complete novice through to Yachtmaster. What is crucial is your level of desire, determination and enthusiasm. You need to be a team player and someone who is tolerant, forgiving, understanding and supportive. If you have those soft skills we can turn you into an accomplished ocean racer.

How much does it cost to take part in the Clipper Race?

The Clipper Race is divided into eight legs. You can view the berth fees for each of the eight legs, by using the Route Builder. Just click here.

How do people deal with seasickness?

Trial and error. Everyone finds a different remedy that works for them. This might be as basic as over the counter medicine. If you take this route, then take a tablet before you sail and during the first 24 hours so it's in your system while you're gaining your sea legs. You can then stop. Other people go for herbal remedies like ginger, wrist bands, that apply pressure to key points and even cotton wool in the ears. When you find a solution that works? Stop experimenting. The worst case scenario is you feel terrible for 48 hours and then your body adjusts and you're ok again.

How fit do I need to be?

Everyone coming to the Clipper Race has a different level of fitness and different idea of what fit means. Training will show you what areas you need to work on. Everything on the Clipper Race yacht is big and heavy and so teamwork and technique are just as important as brute strength. You will get fit on the race? Burning 5,000 calories a day and exercising (even while you sleep) is great.

How are people allocated to teams?

Not only are the yachts identical we also make sure that crew is matched so it is still an even competitive race. We spread the ages, experience, vocations and nationalities across the fleet. Of course if you have a particular yacht that you would like to represent please tell us. But we cannot guarantee being able to grant your request.

How much personal kit can I take?

As a team you will make that decision. Everything you do is a fine balance between having enough and having too much. Too much adds weight and slows the boat down. Not enough means you are cold, wet and demoralised. Somewhere between 20 and 30Kgs of kit is typical.

What kit is included?

Henri Lloyd is the technical clothing partner of the Clipper Race, and Clipper Race Crew are issued with appropriate technical clothing from the offshore sailing range. A full list of the crew kit package can be found here.

Team Partners may also provide you with branded Team Kit, which Race Crew will need to wear at key Clipper Race events. This includes the arrival and departure of each leg and any official functions or events you attend as a Clipper Race crew member.

Henri Lloyd also provide Race Crew with a 25% discount on their crew essentials range, which includes technical clothing, luggage/bags and footwear specifically selected to ensure crew are well protected from the elements at sea. Race Crew can also receive 15% discount off all other ranges including lifestyle by signing up to the Henri Lloyd Privilege Club. Check the Crew Hub for further details.

Does it matter that I’m not a sailor, doctor or engineer?

Not at all. Being good with people and being self-aware is far more important. We get lots of doctors, nurses, vets, engineers and experienced sailor. Having unique and interesting life experiences and stories to share is just as important.

How flexible is the training?

There are four levels of mandatory training which all Clipper Race Crew must complete before their race. Each level takes a week to complete. We run courses most weeks of the year so you can plan well ahead and choose the times that best suit your schedule.

Where is training based?

Training is based in Gosport, UK, and Sydney, Australia. You can choose to complete the first three levels of training in either the UK or Australia. Level four training must be completed in Gosport.

See the full address details here

The Race
Le Mans start procedure

Due to local constraints and conditions it is not always possible to create a standard start line. In order to enable the Clipper Race fleet to begin racing in these circumstances, the ‘Le Mans Start’ was invented and has been successfully used in all previous races.

The aim of all Skippers is to ensure that the Le Mans Start is as fair as practically possible. The procedure does not work if any of the skippers try to jump the gun or gain an unfair advantage during the start sequence. If the Duty Skipper suspects that an unfair advantage is being obtained by any boat they will halt the start process and re-start the sequence.

The procedure uses the standard start countdown of 10 min, 4 min, 1 min, Start.

1. Prior to the 10 minute signal all boats have their mainsails hoisted. Headsails hanked on, halyards and sheets attached, but NOT hoisted.
2. All boats motor slowly (speed set by Duty Skipper), approx 2 to 3 boat lengths apart in a line abreast on a pre-arranged heading. This heading is usually towards the finish.
3. Once the fleet is in a line abreast, the lead skipper signals the 10 minute gun via VHF on a pre-arranged channel. Engines shall be used to ensure that the boats are lined up accordingly (either reverse or forward).
4. At the 4 minute signal, all crew shall be aft of the forward coffee grinder.
5. At the one minute signal, engines are to be turned off.
6. Mainsails are trimmed to ensure the fleet stays in line. If the fleet drift out of line, the Duty Skipper can stop the sequence and start the process again.
7. At the start gun, the crew can move forward and the headsails can be hoisted.
8. All boats must hold the agreed course and separation for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

Additional points:

-The order of the line up will usually be decided during the Pre-start Skippers Briefing - this is usually pulled out of a hat. (with the exception of the Duty Skipper’s position).

- No spinnakers for the first 10 minutes after the start gun.

- No course changes within the first 10 minutes of start gun.

- No luffing for the first 10 minutes after start gun.

- Boats are allowed to tack away from the line up, but must sail behind the fleet. Any boat that does this has no rights of way over those boats that have not tacked during the 10 minutes after the start gun.

Duty Skipper

- The nominated Duty Skipper will be in the middle of the line up at position 6. This is so that they can judge if the fleet are in a straight line.

- The Duty Skipper has overall control of the start sequence and if required, will halt the start sequence at any time up until the start gun.

- The Duty Skipper will ensure that the boats are lined up as fairly as possible for the start sequence.

- The Duty Skipper shall call out the start sequence on a pre-arranged VHF channel.

- The Duty Skipper shall contact the Race Office to confirm that the start has been successfully completed within 30 minutes of the start. The message shall include the official start time, the weather conditions at the start and any other relevant information (e.g. which boat led, tactics etc).

Stealth Mode

Stealth Mode is a concept first introduced by the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to add an extra dose of inter-team competitiveness and a further strategic element to the circumnavigation. Stealth Mode is a tactical card which each team can use to hide their position from the rest of the fleet for a period of 24 hours. Up to two stealth modes may be available depending on the length of the race and they can be used back to back.

The Clipper Race Office team will still track the team's position every hour, but their position is not displayed on the Race Viewer or sent to the fleet for the designated time.

Teams automatically leave Stealth Mode once they are under 250 nautical miles from the finish line and are not allowed to use it within the first 24 hours of the race. Stealth Mode does not have to be used by each team but can definitely give an advantage during a race, especially when the skipper and navigators on board think they have spotted something in the weather reports that other teams may not have seen.

Scoring Gate

A line between two virtual marks which a team can choose to pass through. The first three teams who cross the gate gain extra race points (three for first, two for second and one for third).

Ocean Sprint

A time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude. The fastest three teams gain extra race points (three for first, two for second and one for third).

The Joker

The Joker is a new tactical card for the 2017-18 race. Each team will get an opportunity to play their Joker just once during the entire circumnavigation. A team must declare their Joker before the start of the race in which they wish to play it. Race finish points will be doubled for that race only so the Joker has potential to be a real game changer!

When and why are Penalty Points applied?

Like all yacht racing there are a series of penalties for infringing the rules. Experience has shown that crews who are successful in the Clipper Race are those that are best able to combine the three elements of boat speed, preservation of equipment and effective repair of breakages.

The Clipper Race Committee’s normal method of penalising a yacht for an infringement of the race rules, or for being found guilty after a protest, is for a time or points penalty to be added to the result of that race. But we go beyond that and apply it to sail and also equipment damage. Thus, a penalty point system has been developed by the Clipper Race to encourage these three elements of good seamanship and safety.

Equipment Damage

The Clipper Race Committee keeps a running total of the costs of lost and damaged equipment and will impose 1 penalty point to the relevant Yacht when the running total reaches £500 and an additional 1 penalty point for every subsequent £500. The following is a list of typical examples, the list is not exhaustive:

i) loss of winch handles;

ii) Halyard jammer handles;

iii) serious damage to equipment, including winch drums and sewing machines requiring a replacement;

iv) loss of any running rigging, snatch blocks or handy billy;

v) serious damage to the deck, hull or rig;

The full circumstances of the particular incident will be considered by the Race Committee on an individual basis taking into account a statement from the Skipper. The replacement of safety related equipment will not incur penalty points.

Sail damage, repair or replacement

Yachts have one wardrobe of 11 sails issued for their use for the entire Race. Historically the teams that have taken best care of their sails have performed very well overall. The Clipper Race is a marathon, not a sprint. This fact is probably more relevant with regard to the attitude Skippers and crew have towards their sails than in any other area.

The general wear on the sails is directly proportional to the use and employment of the sail. When Skippers and crew exceed the prudent limits early in the Race they are weakening their sails, the effect of which may not be apparent until later in the Race. Any sail that has been damaged is never as efficient as one that has not been damaged. By damaging sails, Skippers and crew therefore are not only disadvantaged while the sail is not available but also handicap themselves for the rest of the Race.

Repairs to sails

The Skippers and crews will be responsible for sail repairs and maintenance during the Race and at all the port stops. When a sail is damaged beyond the practical resources of the crew members to repair, consideration will be given to repairing the sail using a local professional sailmaker. In all cases where repairs are required to be made by a professional sailmaker, the Race Committee keeps a running total of sail repair costs.

Two penalty points will be awarded to the relevant Yacht when the running total exceeds £500 (or local equivalent at an agreed exchange rate) and a further 2 penalty points awarded for every subsequent £500 for the duration of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race. This applies to all sails and sail bags and is cumulative.

Penalty points will be deducted from the Yacht’s overall points tally and will not affect the published finishing position for any particular race. In making any awards, the Race Committee will take into account all factors including the variance of repair costs in the different ports and the scale of penalties awarded for replacement sails (see below).

The Race Committee will decide on whether badly damaged sails will be repaired or replaced. If it is decided that a sail is to be replaced the penalty points identified below will be awarded immediately. Only in exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to replacing sails.

Replacement of sails

In the event of the loss of a sail, or damage that is uneconomic or impractical to repair, the Race Committee will consider replacing the sail and awarding the Yacht a penalty. The full circumstances of the particular incident will be considered on an individual basis by the Race Committee taking into account the following guidelines:

i) The nature of the loss or the extent of the damage.

ii) The length of time of the whole race remaining, noting that the decision may reflect the need to safeguard the fulfilment of the Race of those crew who are taking part in the later legs of the race.

iii) The financial and practical aspects of local resources against the cost and shipping time for replacement sails. This could result in a decision to replace a badly damaged sail rather than repair it. In this case the replacement sail may have to be shipped to the next practical port.

iv) If the damaged/lost sail can be replaced immediately by one of the sails carried in the fleet support containers. Please note that these sails are old and have been previously used.

The penalty to replace any sail is calculated on a sliding scale with higher penalties incurred as the race progresses, so as to encourage good seamanship right up to the end.

i) 5 Penalty Points – Leg 1 and Leg 2

ii) 6 Penalty Points – Leg 3 and Leg 4

iii) 7 Penalty Points – Leg 5 and Leg 6

iv) 8 Penalty Points – Leg 7 and Leg 8

Penalty points will be deducted from the Yacht’s overall points tally and will not affect the published finishing position for any particular race.

Stopovers/In Port
What happens in port?

First and foremost, you and your team must take care of your yacht. After a warm welcome, and well deserved beer, you will be responsible for deep-cleaning, maintenance, re-provisioning and race planning. You can then get some down time, see the sights and catch your breath but if you're not ready to race when you cross the start line, you've already lost.

A stopover in port allows time for friends, family and local communities to visit the fleet and learn more about your experiences during the race. Race Partners will often have an active presence during this time and you may be involved with their planned activities. The Clipper Race will also have public facing events such as open boat days which are supported by Clipper Race Crew.

I’m a friend and family member, can I see the crew straight away in port?

It is more than likely crew will have to go through customs and immigration upon arrival. The Race Office team try and ensure this is completed as quickly as possible and after the official arrival procedures, Crew are free to meet friends and family.