World’s largest ocean race sets sail from Portsmouth

Over 700 people representing 55 nationalities will depart from Portsmouth on Sunday Credit: PA

The world’s largest ocean race is under way as competitors set sail on a 46,000-mile journey which will take almost a year to complete.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, features over 700 people representing 55 nationalities sailing on a fleet of 70ft racing yachts.

They will depart from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, on Sunday ready to tackle freezing temperatures and 40-foot waves as well as the blistering heat of the tropics.

Credit: Clipper Fleet photoshoot

This year’s competitors include one of the youngest ever skippers and the first mother-daughter duo sailing together on the same boat.

Amanda Shehab, 56, from Wrexham, will be competing with her daughter, Megan Allpress, 26, after her husband, who planned to sail around the world with her, died of cancer aged 51.

Ms Shehab said it was “fitting” that they were setting sail almost exactly two years to the day of his death.

“I want to think of it as a positive, happy thing.

“We went and saw the clipper race in 2018 in Liverpool.

“I said to him, ‘shall we do it?’

Amanda Shehab will be competing with her daughter, Megan, after her husband, who planned to sail with her, died of cancer Credit: Jason Bye/PA

“We then thought we want to sail around the world so we bought our own boat and we were going to do it that way but sadly then he got a brain tumour and he didn’t make it.

“I thought after he’s gone I’ll disintegrate, I don’t know what I’ll do, but then I thought of clipper and I thought, right, I’ll do that.

“I signed up almost immediately after he’d gone.

“We’re so lucky to be able to do this together.”

When Ms Allpress heard her mother had signed up for the challenge, she decided to quit her job as an engineer and join her.

She said: “I just thought, ‘life is short – if you want to do something, do it’.”

Map showing the course route Credit: Clipper Race

Hannah Brewis, 27, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, skipper of the the Washington DC boat, is the third youngest the competition has ever had.

She first started sailing when she was nine years old, describing it as a “hobby which has gone a bit too far”.

She said: “If you’d have told me when I was 18 I was going to sail around the world I’d have said, ‘oh my God, that’s amazing’.

“As a professional sailor to sail around the world is the pinnacle of what you can achieve.”

Hannah Brewis with the Washington DC crew Credit: Clipper Race

The Clipper Race was founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world in 1968.

The fleet is currently racing 1,200 nautical miles to Puerto Sherry, Spain, a brand new destination on the Clipper Race circuit, ahead of crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

The race will also stop at locations including Cape Town, South Africa, Fremantle, Newcastle and Airlie Beach, Australia, Halong Bay, Vietnam, Qingdao and Zhuhai, China, Seattle and Washington DC, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July, 2024, via Oban, Scotland.

According to the race organisers, 22% of competitors had never sailed before signing up to the challenge, which required them to take part in four intensive stages of training.