A British sailor is set to become the youngest skipper in the history of the round-the-world Clipper Race.
Nicola ‘Nikki’ Henderson will have just turned 24 when the popular sailing race sets sail in August.
She takes over the youngest skipper title from Gosport’s Alex Thomson, who won the Clipper 1997-98 race at the age of 26.
Speaking about her appointment, Nikki, from Guildford, said: ‘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.’
The Clipper Race is known as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, taking amateur crews 40,000 nautical miles around the world - and taking almost a year to complete.
Nikki started sailing with friends and family when she was 13, and since 2006 has sailed about 38,000 miles.
There is pressure for all of us to perform, but I am confident in my experience, skill level and maturity.Nikki Henderson
It includes skippering three ARC races across the Atlantic, and the Carribean 600, an inshore race circuit.
She said: ‘There is pressure for all of us to perform, but I am confident in my experience, skill level and maturity.’
She is one of two female Skippers taking part in this year’s race, alongside Wendy Tuck from Australia.
The Clipper Race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Know-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69.
He said: ‘The role of Clipper Race skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing.
‘Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.
‘Nikki has vast experience in offshore ocean racing and has impressed us all the way through her selection process.
‘It is great to see such an accomplished female skipper pursuing a competitive offshore career and I wish her, and all our professional skippers the very best in the race.’
The Clipper Race is held every two years.
This year’s edition will see teams race across the Atlantic to South America, towards South Africa, before passing Australia, China and New York before arriving back in the UK next summer.