A yacht race sailing around the world is stopping in San Francisco this week as the boats finish the trek across the Pacific Ocean from China.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race started in September in London and the 12 participating boats are just days away from reaching San Francisco as the 10th port city.
The teams are stopping in five more ports ahead of their expected return to London by mid-July after traveling about 40,000 nautical miles.
Race organizers at England-based Clipper Ventures provide the fleet of 12 matching 70-foot racing yachts, which are each sponsored by a brand.
A professional skipper is on board to lead a crew of everyday sailing enthusiasts, many with little or no experience, who enrolled in a training course in England to prepare and compete in the race.
Some crewmembers sail in only a limited numbers of legs of the race, while others, known as “rounders,” go around the world during the nearly yearlong competition.
San Francisco’s South Beach Yacht Club will be hosting the sailors who left from Qingdao, China, last month and have spent the past three weeks traversing the open ocean.
The boats are on schedule to arrive sometime between Tuesday and Saturday, according to Bill Adams, commodore at the yacht club.
The boats travel about 200 miles per day, with the leading vessels as many as five days ahead of the pack in what Adams called a “grueling race.”
He said the boats will be berthed in the harbor until April 19 and encouraged residents to visit the area to see the nautical sight.
While in the San Francisco Bay, the crew will restock supplies, work on repairs and recuperate. Adams said the team members will be able to use the yacht club as their temporary resting stop while in the city.
A series of events will be held in the Bay while the boats are in town, including sponsored sailing trips on some of the boats and a dinner at the yacht club this Saturday with race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
According to Adams, Philip Grant, the consul general of Ireland in San Francisco, is planning to stop by the club to visit the boats while team members are at port.
There are several teams with Irish crewmembers and a skipper among the diverse mix of nationalities represented in the race.
On their departure day, there will be a send-off event near the Golden Gate Bridge. The next stop is Panama.
The race is held every other year and began in 1996. This is the first year San Francisco is a stop on the route. In 2012, the race set up port in Oakland.
Anyone interested in the progress of the yachts as they race into San Francisco can track the boats online at http://yb.tl/clipper2013-race10.
As of this afternoon, the Great Britain boat, with 55 crewmembers and British skipper Simon Talbot on board, was in the lead.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News