Captain Nikki Henderson | Photo: Clipper Round the World

Press Release

Press Release
May 18, 2017

Media Contacts
Heather Bryant, Visit Seattle
(206) 461-5805 |

Kevin Ticen, Seattle Sports Commission
(206) 427-5803 |



Twenty-Three-Year-Old Nikki Henderson, Youngest Skipper in Clipper Race History to Helm Visit Seattle Yacht in 2017-2018 Campaign

2017-2018 Marks the Second Year Visit Seattle Takes Part in Challenging Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

SEATTLE – Nicola “Nikki” Henderson has been revealed the skipper who will lead the Visit Seattle yacht in the upcoming Clipper 2017-2018 Round the World Yacht Race. At 23, Henderson is the youngest ever skipper, eclipsing British Yachtsman Alex Thomson, who at 26 won the Clipper 1997-98 Race.

Henderson hails from Guildford, England, and after beginning sailing with family and friends 10 years ago, launched a successful sailing career that would rival those twice her age. Since 2006, Nikki has sailed 38,000 nautical 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 nautical miles in offshore deliveries.

“It is Visit Seattle’s honor to have Nikki at the helm of its namesake boat. Her accomplishments are beyond impressive and her ambition to take sailing to the next level, not only for herself but with the men and women aboard the Visit Seattle, in what is often referred to as one of the greatest challenges in the world, shows great spirit, leadership and determination,” said Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle President & CEO. “She is a natural choice to lead the Visit Seattle yacht to success in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.”

The Visit Seattle team will be made up of approximately 60 people throughout the duration of the Clipper Race, from all walks of life and nationalities representing the city as it races all around the world and from port-to-port. Currently there are fifteen crew members from Washington State, including six from the city of Seattle itself, that have signed up to participate in the 2017-18 race edition.

Of all the oceans she will cross, the North Pacific, which will conclude with the fleet’s arrival into Seattle, will be one of the most extreme mental and physical challenges she and her crew will face in the 11-month journey. Nikki believes the harder they push themselves, the greater the reward and that the sense of achievement at the end will be life changing.

“To achieve greatness in this race across the world’s oceans, a skipper must overcome adversity and conflict by embracing the spirit of their crew during this experience of a lifetime,” said Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission.  “We are so pleased to have Nikki and her leadership at the helm of the Visit Seattle yacht, as she molds individuals into a team for a journey they will never forget.”

Not only will Henderson be able to crisscrossing the largest ocean off her bucket list, she’ll have the added bonus of being welcomed into port by friends and family who live in the area. With an aunt, uncle and cousins from her mom’s side of the family living in Squamish, British Columbia, it will be somewhat of a homecoming when the Visit Seattle pulls into the Port of Seattle’s Bell Harbor Marina in April 2018.

“I have family in British Columbia, Canada – just three hours North of Seattle – who are going to be absolutely ecstatic when they hear that I am representing Visit Seattle, said Henderson. “ I’m expecting a very busy stopover!”

The Clipper 2017-2018 Round the World Yacht Race starts from Liverpool, UK, on Sunday, August 20, and will take approximately 11-months to return after visiting six continents and crossing the world’s major oceans.



About Visit Seattle
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501( c ) 6 organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Nearly 40 million annual visitors spend $7 billion in the city and county each year. The economic power of travel and tourism generates 74,000 Seattle area jobs and contributes $718 million in annual state and local tax revenue.

About The Seattle Sports Commission
The Seattle Sports Commission (SSC), a division of Visit Seattle, is committed to making Seattle a world-class sports community.  Sports have the opportunity to bring the world to Seattle and bring our region together.  A strong sports culture can strengthen local businesses, local kids and local pride. Visit for more information.

Clipper 2017 - 2018 skipper Nikki Henderson | Photo: onEdition
Clipper 2017 - 2018 skipper Nikki Henderson | Photo: onEdition
Clipper 2017 - 2018 skipper Nikki Henderson | Photo: onEdition
Clipper 2017 - 2018 skipper Nikki Henderson | Photo: onEdition


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