04 October 2007

19 55 28N 23 28 50W

That was the reported position of the lead boat in the round the world race Clipper Round the World 07-08 at midday today. The current leg is from La Rochelle to Salvador. The 10 boats are all identical and will arrive back in Liverpool next July as part of the city’s celebration of its 2008 City of Culture status. Clipper Round the World is a major adventure for most of the participants – the only professional sailor on each boat is the skipper – but it is also a business.

Clipper Round the World was thought up by Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo round the world non-stop 1968-69.

Clipper Round the World races take place every 2 years and last about 9 months. The current design is a lightweight cutter built from a glass fibre composite sandwich construction with two layers of glass fibre around a balsa wood core. It displaces 30 tonnes and is just short of 21 metres.

Clipper Round the World has several revenue streams from the participants who pay to take part depending on how many legs they crew in, sponsors of the boats themselves and advertising sponsors throughout the event and on the website. Visitors to the website can use a race viewer which combines Google Maps with a KML file to report the track of each boat on the current leg. Positions on the map are reported every 6 hours. Crews on each boat write occasional blog entries as well as taking photos and videos of what is going on around them.

I’m hooked already and it has only just started. Mind you, I’ve got an interest in one of the boats, a friend is taking part in all the legs.

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