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Key facts

  • The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other.
  • It’s a record-breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht.
  • Divided into eight legs and between 13 and 16 individual races, you can choose to complete the full circumnavigation or select individual legs.
  • It is the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of eleven identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper and first mate to safely guide the crew.



Matt Leonbruno spent the day on the Qingdao

With the Clipper Race now over, it seems the perfect time to cover how a few of our customers got to experience some time sailing on the winning team’s yacht.

Matthew Leonbruno is a Senior Account Executive and has been working at AST for over four years. Originally focusing on sales within our land-based offerings, Matthew eventually dived into the maritime side of our industry. Now his goal and key focus has become growing the maritime side our US business.

Matthew invited a few of our customers from the East Coast to join him in New York to experience what it is really like on one of these huge Clipper yachts, and to see what AST technology was doing to help the teams as they raced around the globe.

“As a key sponsor of the Clipper Race, AST was able to invite seven of our customers to come to New York to explore one of the Clipper yachts. The team of the Qingdao invited us onto their yacht. At the time they were in first place, and as we know now, they eventually won the entire race, so it was a real privilege.

We got everyone together and sailed out of North Cove Marina – this beautiful spot is right downtown, next to the One World Trade Centre. After our safety briefing and meeting the six crew members, we learnt a bit about the boat itself. They told us about the race, how it was going, and how the AST equipment onboard had helped along their journey.

Once we were out of the marina and into the New York Harbor, the crew gave us a few sailing lessons. They covered what they do, how they do it, and taught everyone onboard about sailing a Clipper racing yacht. This included everything from how to rig the sails, raise the sails, tacking, and all every technical term to do with sail racing. So, whilst we got the hang of it, everyone was able to do a little bit of everything, and all our customers loved it. They all got stuck in, being active, and not just letting the crew do the work, but trying to do a lot themselves.

We got some good winds out on the water and got to move at a fast pace along the New York Harbour. We sailed past Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and ended up seeing another of the Clipper vessels out there as well, inspiring an impromptu race.

After everyone had lunch on the boat, some rain came in. So, a few people got off the boat, but a few of us decided, do you know what, we are already on the water. Let’s get wet. Let’s keep going. We got heavily rained on and it was a little more intense than we had anticipated, but it did not last too long. So, we headed back around the tip of Manhattan Island and onto the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the fun part. We did not know if we would clear it or not. The Skipper’s chart said, yes, as there was 110 feet of clearance, and the mast was about one hundred feet. We went up to it and said, can we do this. Luckily, we figured out that we could, given the tide at that point of the day.

It was good to see New York, take our customers out for a new experience, and learn more about the Clipper yachts, including the stories from the crew. Some of them had been with the race since the beginning, and some had just started in Bermuda, before they got to New York.

It was an absolute blast and everyone who was there seemed to really enjoy it and said it was one of the coolest things they had ever done.

The Clipper race has had a while off but now it is back, I am so glad that AST has remained a sponsor and I will continue to organise more experiences around the Clipper race. The event itself is cool to be a part of and it is a fantastic opportunity to show our customers some of what we can do. We can show them technology on the yachts that they have not used. Plus, we can show them how people in a different sector can use satellite technology. There is a lot of advantages to being at these events, other than just the sheer entertainment factor of it.”

Thank you to Matthew for sharing his experience. Congratulations to the crew of the Qingdao yacht and we are already looking forward to how they perform in the next Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Learn more about the race and keep up with news updates of the next one here: Clipper Round the World Race

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