Published: Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The 45-year-old sailor Mark Light from Hampshire has been appointed Race Director of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Mark Light Appointed Clipper Race Director 5

(Photos: Clipper Race)

He competed in the 2011-12 edition as Skipper of the Derry-Londonderry team and worked as Deputy Race Director in 2012.

“I am honoured to be named Race Director of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race,” says Light. “As a former Skipper, I know both the challenges and the rewards it offers, and having worked as Deputy Race Director for the previous two race editions I feel prepared and ready to lead the race into the 2017-18 edition and beyond.

“The Clipper Race is unlike any other ocean race. We train around 700 international crew, find and develop 12 professional Skippers, and then work and travel round the clock applying the timelines and logistics of getting the world’s largest matched fleet of ocean racing yachts round the 40,000 nautical mile course, including 14 or 15 stopover ports.

“It is an incredible operation but with the experience of 10 previous editions of this race, our staff, along with the support and vision of our founders Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and William Ward, are experts and I’m very proud to be taking the helm with them.”

Light’s most immediate responsibilities will include appointing a new Deputy Race Director, and trialling and selecting the 12 professional Skippers, who will lead their teams around the world, as well as overseeing the global route and stopover logistics to ensure the world-class event runs as smoothly as possible. 

Mark Light Appointed Clipper Race Director 4

(Mark Light)

“We are very pleased with our decision to promote Mark into the role of Race Director,” says Clipper Race Co-Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “He has amassed huge experience in the past two races, in addition to his extensive sailing record, especially during the Clipper 2011-12 Race for Derry-Londonderry. He has done a truly excellent job for us already and I know he will continue to do so as Race Director.”

Light replaces former Race Director Justin Taylor, who decided to step down after almost a decade with the company, to be able to devote more time to his family.

“I would also like to express my thanks to the previous Race Director, Justin Taylor, for all his hard work and effort put into the Clipper Race over the last few years,” adds Knox-Johnston. 

The Clipper Race is the biggest, and one of the toughest, ocean races on the planet. It was established 20 years ago by Knox-Johnston to allow non-professional sailors the opportunity to train and complete one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, a circumnavigation. Around 40 per cent of the crew have never sailed before they undertake the race’s extensive pre-race training programme.

The 11 edition of the biennial challenge, the Clipper 2017-18 Race will start next summer and is expected to be the largest scale race to date. Around 700 crew, currently training for the eleven-month challenge, will compete on 12 one-design 70-foot yachts in 14 or 15 races between six continents.