Female skipper makes history in Clipper race

LONDON • Australian mariner Wendy Tuck became the first woman skipper to win the Clipper Round The World yacht race, when the 11-month marathon finished where it started in Liverpool yesterday.

The 53-year-old - who like the other skippers is a professional yachtsman but in charge of amateur crews - totalled 143 points in her boat Sanya Serenity Coast over the eight-leg race, covering 40,000 nautical miles in the 11th edition of the biennial race.

"I hate banging on about women," Tuck told The Daily Telegraph. "I just do what I do, but I am very proud." She added she was experiencing "a bit of shock, disbelief, joy, sadness - you name that emotion, I'm probably feeling it right now".

She edged out another woman, Britain's Nikki Henderson, who made her own history by being the race's youngest captain at 25. She had 139 points.

The previous youngest skipper was Alex Thomson, who, at 26, piloted Ariel to win the 1997-98 edition. He finished second in the gruelling solo round-the-world Vendee Globe race in January last year.

This edition of the race did not pass off without its share of incident and tragedy.

In November, the Greenings yacht, one of 12 which originally left Liverpool, ran aground off the coast of South Africa, forcing the vessel to be withdrawn due to damage.

And, in the same month, 60-year-old retired English solicitor Simon Speirs was killed when he was swept overboard on the leg from South Africa to Australia while racing on board the yacht Great Britain.

He had been on the foredeck to help change a sail when the incident happened.

Speirs became separated from the boat which was in the Southern Ocean, in what were rough seas with 20 knots of wind and gusts at 40.

An investigation into why his tether failed to keep him attached to the boat is under way.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 29, 2018, with the headline 'Female skipper makes history in Clipper race'. Print Edition | Subscribe