Honolulu Star Bulletin 02/08/03)
By Ray Pendleton
For the fourth time in the past eight years, a fleet of racing yachts has made landfall in Hawai`i for a scheduled stopover in its race around the world.
This long-distance sailing contest is called the Clipper Race as it somewhat retraces the trade routes of the old clipper ships of the 19th century.
However, its vessels are smaller 60-foot sloops built to the highest technological standards available today.
In past years, you may have seen the fleet briefly moored in Waikiki's Ala Wai harbor. This year it was invited to make its 10-day "pit stop" at the Ko Olina Resort and Marina, on O`ahu's leeward coast.
Similar to each previous race, the Clipper 2002 Round the World Race is a contest between eight identical yachts that are skippered by professional sailors, although they are crewed by 14 amateurs who have paid for the experience of sailing one or more legs of the race.
This year, for the first time, each of the eight yachts is sponsored by an international city: Liverpool, New York, London, Bristol, Jersey, Hong Kong, Glasgow and Cape Town.
The race was founded by the famed British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail a solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world. He continues to chair the company, Clipper Ventures, that continues to organize the event.
The Clipper 2002 Round the World Race is one of just five established globe-girdling sailing contests and the only one to incorporate most of the world's financial trading centers. The other races are the Vendee Globe, Around Alone, Global Challenge and the Volvo Ocean Race.
Clipper 2002 began on October 28, 2002 in Liverpool, England, and its competitors will return there -- after sailing some 35,000 nautical miles -- for the finish in September of this year.
The race course takes the fleet into port for scheduled stops in Portugal, Cuba, Panama, the Galapagos, Hawai`i, Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong China, the Philippines, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, New York, and Jersey in the Channel Islands of the UK.
The longest leg of the race --4,200 nautical miles between the Galapagos and Ko`Olina -- will be celebrated with the awarding of a Ko`Olina Cup to the first-to-finish yacht.
And even though the racing crews will be using the stopover to rest and to repair and resupply their yachts, there will be activities this weekend at the Ko Olina Marina that will involve them, some local sailors and the general public.
At 9 a.m. today, sailors from the Waikiki, Hawaii and Kaneohe yacht clubs have been invited to crew the Clipper 2002 yachts -- with their professional skippers -- in a "fun race" along the leeward coast.
Participants will take part in a two hour training session and then after lunch, sail in a "Fun Cup" regatta from 1 to 3 p.m.
Tomorrow, the general public is invited to the Ko Olina Marina for an open house between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
This will give everyone a chance to come and talk story with the crews and to tour their state-of-the-art racing yachts.
For anyone interested in sailing or in sea stories, it should be a don't-miss-it event.
HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News