At 23, Nicola 'Nikki' Henderson, from Guildford is the Clipper Race’s youngest ever Skipper, by over a year, taking on the title from Alex Thompson who proved youth was no barrier to success when he won the Clipper 1997-98 Race, aged 26.
Sailing with family and friends since the age of 13, the idea of being able to work at sea was planted after a short stint in the Sea Cadets. Nikki has since carved a successful sailing career, in both racing and instructing which would rival those twice her age.
Having sailed over 38,000nm, she has skippered three ARC races across the Atlantic (twice winning the Youngest Skipper Award), the Caribbean 600 - an inshore race circuit, two Cowes Weeks, co-skippered two Fastnet campaigns and sailed over 10,000 miles in offshore deliveries.
As an RYA instructor for over three years she has already taught over 200 students and also recently launched a Sailing and Watersports centre in Denver, Colorado.
Nikki says: "I know how fun competitive racing can be. Being part of a team that is driving for the podium is very motivating, but for me, winning is more than the podium finishes. My ambition is to keep my team safe, look after our boat, and sail with poise and style all the way around the world."
"I want to create an extraordinary life-changing experience for every member of my team, to inspire them and to show them why ocean racing is the best thing in the world."
Asked about her selection: "It feels great, I hope I can be an inspiration to other young people to go and achieve what they set out to, to push boundaries and go get what they want if they put their minds to it and work hard."
When asked which ocean she was most looking forward to crossing, "all of them," and then adds: "The Pacific will be one of the most extreme mental and physical challenge my crew and I will face, the harder we push ourselves the greater the reward. The sense of achievement at the end will be lifechanging."
Highly motivated and conscientious, Nikki, holds herself to high standards. Leading by example is extremely important to her and her advice to crew is: "Expect to reach your physical and mental limits during the race. The rewards come when you push these boundaries."