Old Greenwich father and son place second in race across Pacific Ocean

After almost a month at sea, father and son duo Benoit (57) and Victor (26) Ansart, from Old Greenwich and their Sanya Serenity Coast team has crossed the finish line after completing the gruelling North Pacific Ocean stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, nicknamed ‘The Big One’, in second place.

It was the fifth podium for the team and the total race points mean that the team holds onto its overall win as it enters the penultimate Leg, Leg 7, which runs from Seattle, WA, to New York via the Panama Canal.

After battling 5,528 nautical miles (nm), hurricane force winds and waves up to 14 metres, Benoit and Victor have completed the sixth leg of the Clipper Race, into the Port of Seattle and will be hosted at Bell Harbor Marina for the next week.

Benoit has been racing on board since the race started in Liverpool, UK, last August and he has been joined by his son, Victor, since the race departed Australia in January.

Speaking about the conditions on the latest race, Victor said: “It was quite the adventure! The waves were absolutely massive but it was spectacular. The boat handles it really well and we rush down the waves at full speed. We got close to the Clipper Race record for boats speed when we reached 33.9 knots.

“When you’re steering down at those speeds, you don’t want to look backwards as its really quite scary! Just like a giant rooster tail out the back of the boat. The water changes colour, it goes from grey to aqua marine and at night it glows a really bright green from all the plankton, which sprays up everywhere. It really is spectacular.”

His father, Benoit, who was put on the same watch system as his son for the Mighty Pacific Leg, recalls how special it was to be able to share such an experience with his son: “Being able to share this was amazing. We have sailed together since Victor was very young so being able to do this together is very unique.

It was a dream of a lifetime to race around the world but to be able to do a part of it with my son, Victor, and especially doing this Pacific race together was amazing!”

Victor adds: “And after 27 days at sea, we are still getting along!”

For Victor, the arrival back into his home country was due to mark the end of his Clipper Race adventure, having originally signed up for Leg 5 and Leg 6 of the race. However, after catching the Clipper Race bug, Victor is now due to return for more ocean racing and will pick up the race again for the final Leg, Leg 8, when the fleet reaches New York in mid-June.

The addition, though last minute, got the seal of approval from his father who said: “We are not sure if he will be on board Sanya Serenity Coast again, we might be racing against each other next time!

“But I think it’s just such a great opportunity and experience for him. I have done the Atlantic a few times before and I think it is great for Victor to do it following the Pacific, too. I am very supportive.”

In the meantime, the duo is happy to have reached their home country. After racing over 30,000 nautical miles to get there, Benoit says: “We are home! We did it! It’s very good to get back here onto more familiar ground.”

Victor says: “It’s awesome! I can’t wait for the craft beer, too!”

From New York, Victor will race across the North Atlantic to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, then on to Liverpool, UK, where he will arrive with the rest on the fleet on 28 July.

The race is unique in that it trains non-professionals to be ocean faring sailors.

Eleven Clipper Race teams set sail from Qingdao, China, in late March.  The winning team was the boat of the same name, Qingdao, followed by Sanya Serenity Coast in second place and Unicef in third. And despite the extremely challenging conditions and the vast distance travelled over the last 28 days at sea, there was just five minutes between fourth and fifth place.  

The Big One

The eleven-strong fleet met hurricane force winds on their most recent voyage with reported gusts of up to 80 knots.  At 14 metres, the waves experienced were ’phenomenal’ and the height of a four-story building. This torrent of water propelled the boats down the waves, enabling them to reach speeds of 30 knots.

The North Pacific leg is known as ‘The Big One’ due to its extreme weather, but also because it is the most remote.  It is devoid of land mass and at certain points, the closest other humans would have been the astronauts on the International Space Station. Occasionally birds would use the boats as temporary land. Despite these wild conditions, there was the odd calm day of sailing, and one of the boats was even joined for an hour by a pod of humpback whales.

Established 21 years ago by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world, 40 percent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up as full training is provided.

Says Sir Robin: “Oceans do not distinguish between professional and non-professional seafarers. The conditions faced in this North Pacific leg would test the most experienced of sailors. The hurricane force winds have certainly been the toughest since our crew left Liverpool eight months ago. They have seen nature in the raw, conditions that would terrify most sailors, but they have come through it and given themselves an experience that most people on this planet can only ever visualise.

“I am immensely proud, both of our Skippers and crew’s outstanding seamanship skills, which kept everyone safe in the extreme conditions, and also that after almost a month of racing, the action came right down to the final miles. Just five minutes separated two of the teams which is incredibly impressive.  They can really call themselves sailors now.”

Benoit and Victor Ansart —Photo by Jean Marcus Strole

Benoit and Victor Ansart —Photo by Jean Marcus Strole

Victor and Benoit Ansart  with crew. —Photo by Jean Marcus Strole

Victor and Benoit Ansart with crew. —Photo by Jean Marcus Strole

Sanya Serenity Coast

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress