Thousands are expected to flock to London’s St Katharine Docks this Saturday to welcome the Clipper fleet home. But dramatic footage has been released today of the moment the GREAT Britain team were hit by a tornado as they competed in the Clipper Round the World yacht race.
A total of 670 novice sailors from all walks of life, aged 18 to 74, were trained to take on the biennial endurance challenges, currently in its ninth edition.
Crew have experienced a wide range of weather conditions from the benign to the extreme: in addition to the tornado incident they have endured being knocked down by giant waves, battled hurricane force winds, dodged icebergs and growlers; extreme heat and cold; been on the alert for pirates; had coast guard assisted medical evacuations and rescued of a man overboard after being lost in a Pacific storm for more than an hour.
The footage of the tornado was captured by a fixed on-board camera attached to the mast looking down towards the stern. It shows the team in challenging conditions a week out of Australia heading towards the equator with heavy rain and squalls battering the fleet.
The waterspout was pretty invisible in the conditions at the time and hit without warning, rolling the boat through 120 degrees pinning the mast down on the ocean’s surface in swirling winds over 100 knots.
Crew are thrown into the sea on their tethers and scrabble to hang onto the boat which starts to right itself as the tornado passes and is visible in the upper left hand side of the screen disappearing into the distance as the crew start to clamber back onto their feet.
Crew member Paul Hardy, aged 43, an IT consultant from Brighton is seen desperately trying to grab onto the mast after he is submerged into the sea as the yacht is hit by the tornado.
He said: ‘All of a sudden the wind picked up and the noise picked up…water started to rise and I knew there was something wrong… I tried to get out of the water and climb up onto the mast and then saw the water spout.’
Saturday’s homecoming schedule
Thousands are expected to descend on St Katharine Docks to welcome the Clipper crews back to London after 11 months circumnavigating the world.
But even those who cannot attend the big event will be able to watch the action online thanks to a Live Stream, which will be available from 11:45 BST (1045 UTC/GMT), by clicking this link.
The Clipper Race fleet are expected to finish racing in the early hours of Saturday, ready to parade up the Thames at 07:30 from Southend.
Timings of the best vantage points to watch the fleet:
- 10.00 – Parade of Sail starts
- 10.19 – QE2 Bridge at Dartford
- 11.48 – Thames Barrier
- 12.01 – Dome
- 12.12 – Greenwich
- 12.30 – Canary Wharf Pier
- 12.45 – St Katharine Docks
- 14.00-15.00 – Final prizegiving ceremony at St Katharine Docks