Guest Skippers

NIKKI HENDERSON   

In 2017, at age 23, Nicola ‘Nikki’ Henderson, from Guildford was the Clipper Race’s youngest ever skipper. Over 9 gruelling months and 40,000 she proved that this was no barrier to success when she and her crew placed second in the race.

Sailing with family and friends since the age of 13 the idea of being able to work at sea was planted after a short stint in the Sea Cadets. Nicola has since carved a successful sailing career, in both racing and instructing which would rival those twice her age.

Before the Clipper, Nikki had already sailed 38,000 miles during which she has skippered three ARC races across the Atlantic (twice winning the Youngest Skipper Award), the Caribbean 600 - an inshore race circuit, two Cowes Weeks, co-skippered two Fastnet campaigns and sailed over 10,000 miles in offshore deliveries.

As an RYA instructor for over three years she has already taught over 200 students and also launched a Sailing and Watersports centre in Denver, Colorado.

Nikki is highly motivated, conscientious and holds herself to high standards. Leading by example is extremely important to her. Her top piece of advice to crew is: “Expect to reach your physical and mental limits during the race. The rewards come when you push these boundaries.”


WENDY TUCK   

For Wendy 'Wendo' Tuck, one race around the world was never going to be enough, and now she’s making history as the first Australian skipper to take part in the arduous ocean challenge twice.

It’s not the first time Wendy has made Clipper Race history. In the previous 2015-16 edition, she was the first Australian female skipper ever appointed to lead a team of amateurs on the epic 40,000 nautical mile race across the world’s oceans.

Before setting off on a second Clipper Race, Wendy rang in 2017 by achieving her life-long goal of making the CYCA honours list, after competing in a tenth Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The RSHYR is a race close to Wendy’s heart. The 52-year-old was awarded the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy after being the first female Skipper across the Finish Line, plus she led her team to win the Clipper Race class of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which doubled as Race 5 of the All-Australian Leg.

Wendy knows a thing or two when it comes to handling a diverse and inexperienced crew. In the 2015-16 edition, there were twelve nationalities and 47 careers in her crew, with the ages ranging from 18 to 66.

When she won the Clipper in July 2018, Wendy became the first woman to win a round the world race coming 29 years after Tracy Edwards became the first woman to come second.

Wendy has just been nominated for the Rolex World Sailor Award.


SHARON FERRIS CHOAT   

Sharon competed in her first Olympic Games at the age of 22 in 1996 in Atlanta finishing 5th then again in Athens 2004 with the Yngling placing 7th. She has raced 3 times around the world with over 90,000 offshore miles. Firstly, as part of Tracy Edwards’ first all-female crew to attempt the Jules Verne non-stop around the world, then the Volvo Ocean Race and in 2005 as winner of the Oryx Quest.

Sharon is currently the skipper of Thalassa Magenta Racing and was Co skipper of Armin Strom Sailing Team. She also skippered Ave Gitana in the Groupama Race with a female crew.

Her goal is to inspire women in New Zealand and all over the world to gain qualifications and experience to boost female participation in Elite racing teams.


DEE CAFFARI   

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world six times. She is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times.

In 2006 Dee became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world against the prevailing winds and currents and was awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievement.

Dee recently led ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ – the first mixed gender youth team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18; with a strong sustainability message. Off the water, the issue of single use plastic in our oceans gained huge momentum and has inspired many people to take action in their day to day lives. Dee will continue to highlight the vital importance of reducing our dependence on plastics.

Outside of sailing, Dee continues to showcase her talents as a presenter and on the motivational speaker circuit. Dee also spends time supporting her chosen charities and is Chair of the World Sailing Trust, a new global charity that will promote the health of oceans and grow participation of the sport to protect its future.


Crew


MATILDA AJANKO   

Tilly was born and raised in Finland, taking up sailing as a child and competing in events each summer in a variety of dinghies.

She also enjoyed windsurfing and trained to take part in the 2008 Olympics at the same time as doing a degree in Anthropology, with a minor in international law and human rights law. She worked for the Finnish Sailing Federation in charge of junior sailing, coaching young sailors and arranging events.

Tilly then moved to Australia where she started racing and taking part in regattas in keel boats. This took her all over the world and most recently she was living in Palma de Mallorca working for a rigging company. She has accrued over 50,000 sailing miles.

She describes herself as a strong, determined, technical sailor with a strange sense of humour!


BELINDA HENRY   

Belle came to sailing a little later than usual after a chance offer of position on a boat, but it has become her life’s passion. She loves sailing, racing and the challenges they bring.

She has worked in the marine industry for the past 15 years and worked her way up to the position on a 100ft performance yacht, raced blue water ocean passages and inshore regattas all over the world gaining over 90,000 ocean miles.

Sailing with a team of women has always been something she wanted to do; combining that with sailing around the world with a cause of inspiring and empowering young girls and women will help her share her passion, skills and gain invaluable experience.


AMELIA RALPHS   

Amelia is the youngest crew member on Maiden at 21 years old; but has achieved so much in her short career to date.

She was born in Gloucester and started sailing on dinghies at 9 years old, which she didn’t automatically take to. At 14 years old she got involved with the Tall Ships Youth Trust ending up as a volunteer working with disadvantaged people of all ages. This was when she knew she wanted a career in sailing. Trinity House gave her the opportunity to get all the qualifications she needed and at 18 years old she did her first Transatlantic on Challenge 72’s and two years later skippered her first transatlantic on a Farr 52 and has 36,000 sailing miles.

Amelia has been involved in the refit of Maiden and will be the engineer during the Maiden Factor World Tour. She loves the idea of ‘sailing with a purpose’, to be able to sail around the world using the legendary boat Maiden, who inspired so many people, for a cause that she really believes in – girls’ education.


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