London, UK (PRWEB) July 17, 2014
Thousands of spectators lined the banks of the River Thames this past weekend to welcome home 270 international amateur crew on 12 70-ft yachts. The vessels formed a Parade of Sail, which concluded with Tower Bridge lifting for the top three teams. Mercy Ships Switzerland Director Rene Lehmann and Mercy Ships UK Director Judy Polkinhorn were on hand to welcome the Switzerland home and to thank them for raising the Mercy Ships profile in the race.
Captained by the race’s sole female skipper, the UK’s Vicky Ellis, the Clipper yacht Switzerland finished fifth this past weekend in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, placing solidly on 113 points, 20 points behind fourth-placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and nine points ahead of Old Pulteney.
During their circumnavigation, the crew of the Switzerland also raised money and awareness for Mercy Ships, the hospital ship charity. During the Switzerland’s 40,000 mile ocean race, the charity’s 11,600-ton ship, the Africa Mercy, was docked in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo. Its 400 volunteer crew from 35 nations provided more than 2,500 free surgeries during its stay there. In August, the ship will sail to Benin for a 10-month field service.
During the voyage, the crew of the Switzerland were involved in fundraising efforts among friends, families and companies. They were awarded pennants in various ports where Mercy Ships had offices, culminating in 25 Mercy Ships pennants in total. Each pennant symbolized $1500 raised toward a life-saving reconstructive facial surgery to be carried out on the hospital ship. So far, more than $38,000 has been raised.
Ellis, the third female skipper in the history of the Clipper Race, said getting the whole crew around the world and back to London in one piece is one of her greatest achievements, but it had been her biggest pleasure too.
“I'm so, so pleased and proud of the team. This is an ambition of mine finally realized. The Mercy Ships pennants flutter on the side rail, and they remind us that this year of self-achievements has also made a difference elsewhere in the world,” stated Ellis. “Congratulations, team, we just did something amazing!”
The team had three podiums: Race 6 – Hobart to Brisbane, Race 12 – Panama to Jamaica, and Race 15 – Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to Den Helder, the Netherlands. And at the 69th Sydney-Hobart Race, Bristol-based Ellis won the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy for being the first female skipper over the line in the famous race.
Crew members came from Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, the UK and Norway for various legs of the race. Eight of the crew sailed the entire race from start to finish.
Mercy Ships Founder/President Don Stephens said, “Team Switzerland’s effort has been impressive and the Mercy Ships crew are extremely grateful for all the fundraising and support we have received from the Clipper crew, family, friends and colleagues. We are delighted to know they’re all back safe. Hearty congratulations on their race result and contribution to the hope and healing of our patients in Africa.”
Throughout the whole race, a total of 670 crew members from 42 different countries on 12 different yachts battled hurricanes, survived a waterspout and dealt with medical evacuations and the miraculous rescue of a man who went overboard in the Pacific Ocean for 90 minutes.
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ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.42 million direct beneficiaries.
Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on http://www.mercyships.org.