Clipper Race to dock in Oban, for first time ever

Image shows two racing yachts on an angle in the foreground with another three in the distance

For the first time in its 27-year history, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will be making a stop in Scotland when it sails to Oban during its upcoming edition.

Clipper Race crew will experience the breathtaking beauty of this West Coast town and a warm Highlands welcome when they visit in July 2024 – the penultimate stop on the 40,000nm race around the world.

The Clipper Race is renowned as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet. Welcoming adventurers from all walks of life to take on the exceptional challenge of racing across the world’s oceans on board a 70ft yacht, this unique event sees teams battle extreme conditions on its eleven-month circumnavigation. The Clipper 2023-24 Race sees nine Scottish crew taking part over the eight legs of the sailing event. 

With no prior sailing experience necessary, Race Crew choose to take on the full round the world challenge or pick one or multiple race legs. Before setting sail, they take on an intensive and compulsory four-stage training programme before going on to tackle some of the most challenging conditions that Mother Nature can serve up, from the freezing temperatures and 40-foot waves of the North Pacific to the blistering heat and flat calms of the tropics.

Berthing at North Pier Pontoons in Oban, Race Crew will get a chance to take in the stunning scenery, rich history, warm hospitality, and diverse attractions on offer in this Scottish Gem, before heading off on the final race of this edition. 

Whilst a brand-new stop on the Clipper Race circuit, Clipper Ventures has visited the destination as part of the company’s other events and initiatives. In 2021, in partnership with Our Isles and Oceans, the company ran four weeks of sail training programmes out of Oban. These sessions were for young people who had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Its yachts returned to Oban in 2022 to run additional courses. 

Oban has also featured on SKIRR Adventures’ itinerary. Clipper Ventures’ Artic exploration brand, which takes crew up to the High Latitudes, has stopped to explore the West Coast town before heading up to Iceland and Greenland.

Laura Ayres, Managing Director at Clipper Ventures, added “As our first ever stop in Scotland, we know Oban locals will put on a huge Highlands welcome for our crew. The Clipper Race brings large numbers of international visitors to its Host Ports and their surrounding areas. It is our hope that this new partnership with Oban will bring a substantial economic impact to the local community.

“Oban is not only an incredible sailing destination but also has a rich history of adventure – the perfect match for our intrepid crew. The area’s great food and drink scene will also be welcomed after a tough Atlantic crossing. From previously visiting Oban through our other sailing programmes, we know this will make a brilliant penultimate stop on our circumnavigation, and the stopover will show off everything Oban has to offer and shine the spotlight on the town and surrounding region.”

Andrew Spence, Chief Executive of Bid4Oban, said “Oban is a fantastic and welcoming venue for the Clipper Round the World Race Yacht Race. Located in the heart of the magnificent West Coast of Scotland, it boasts superb sailing waters and is renowned for its spectacular coastal scenery and traditional Scottish Highland hospitality. Steeped in history dating back centuries, Oban is a true showcase of a traditional highland coastal town.”

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council said “We are really excited to support this international event along with BID4Oban Ltd and look forward to welcoming the many crews, teams, sightseers and family members who follow this amazing race.  Given that, this race attracts an international following it is sure to put Oban at the forefront of destination cruise sailing in Scotland and provide a welcome boost to the local economy.”

By the time teams arrive in Oban they will have sailed almost 40,000nm and crossed six oceans. The last stop before the emotional homecoming, the arrival into Oban will mark the end of the North Atlantic crossing, allowing the crew a few days to gather their thoughts before they embark on the short but intense race back to the finish line in Portsmouth. 

This edition sees a number of Scottish crew taking part in the race, four of which will experience sailing into their home country after crossing the North Atlantic from the USA.

Crew from or living in Scotland taking part in the 2023-24 edition are: 

Andrew Fisher, 59, Business Owner, Edinburgh, Legs 1 & 2

Anne Sheehan, 53, Finance and Operations Director, Argyll, Leg 5

Campbell Fleming, 55, Geologist, Glasgow, Legs 3 & 5

Danielle Gray, 20, Student, Glasgow, Leg 8

David Dunaway, 67, Surgeon, Glasgow, Leg 2 

Elizabeth Balmer, 29, PhD Student, North Ayreshire, Leg 6

Hamish Mitchell,59, Air Traffic Controller, Ayrshire Legs 2 and 5

Gill Petrie, 29, Broughty Ferry, Leg 2

Joan Kelly, 59, Midwife, Inverness, Leg 1

Laura Webb, 59, Programme Director, Stirling, Leg 3

Mark Jaffray, 48, Offshore Supervisor, Aberdeenshire, Leg 6

Michael Almond, 63, Senior Engineer, Fife, Legs 5 & 8 

Ross Dunlop, 60, Retired, Edinburgh, Circumnavigator

Stephen Mackenzie, 56, Farmer, Ross & Cromarty, Legs 3, 4, 5, & 6

Susan Smith, 64, Retired, Argyll, Legs 1 and 2

Vicki Leslie, 39, Head Chef, Shetland, Circumnavigator

Stirling-born Race Skipper Max Rivers will also be leading his Our Isles and Oceans team around the globe. The Clipper Race fleet will depart Oban for the final race to Portsmouth, UK for Race Finish celebrations. 

*Photo credit – clipperroundtheworld.com

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