Preparations begin in Gosport for toughest ocean race

Skipper Peter Thornton from Cornwall and his 'new' crew aboard The GREAT Britain Clipper Yacht' 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (150811-0934)
Skipper Peter Thornton from Cornwall and his 'new' crew aboard The GREAT Britain Clipper Yacht' 'Picture: Malcolm Wells (150811-0934)
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Picture: Sarah Standing (161630-8733) PPP-160912-203331001

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NOVICE crews are preparing to take on one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

Twelve Clipper 70ft ocean racing yachts were being lovingly checked, stocked and prepared yesterday by their crews and skippers in Gosport Marina.

They will be taking part in the 10th edition of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the longest ocean adventure on the planet.

The race was set up for amateur sailors by legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, from Old Portsmouth, who was the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world.

Sir Robin was at the marina, in Mumby Road He said: ‘It is going well, the crews are about ready to go and now it’s getting closer towards the point where we just need to get racing.’

Sir Robin said the atmosphere was more relaxed than usual which he attributed to his ‘excellent team’.

There are 25 crew members from Hampshire, including mum-of-two Mel Thompson, from North End.

Mel is in remission from cancer but said she was ready to take on the race, which will see her cover 6,000 miles in legs five and six of the race onboard boat GREAT Britain.

She said: ‘Everyone is really excited. I’m confident we will have fun along the way as well as some tough days, but that’s sailing for you.’

Skipper Peter Thornton was hard at work onboard GREAT Britain yesterday and said he had hopes for a podium finish.

He said: ‘It has been great to get on to the next stage – from learning to sail to racing.’

The race will see more than 200 sailors cover more than 40,000 miles, over 11 months.

The boats will set sail from Gosport on Tuesday and will spend 10 days in London ahead of a spectacular parade to mark the race start on the River Thames on August 30.

Also taking part as crew are Charlotte Morton-Haworth, from Alverstoke, Ali Hudson, from Lee-on-the-Solent and Dawn Miller, from Gosport.
Skippers Max Stunnell, from Southsea, Greg Miller and Jim Prendergast, both from Gosport, will each be in charge of one of the yachts.