Team Henri Lloyd arriving in 2nd place into San Francisco in the early house of the morning

Quotes from Eric

“You’re going to learn as you go; we can’t teach you everything right from the beginning so just get stuck in.”

“That was really reassuring to see that the boat was kitted out with Harken.”

Harken Exclusive Interview with Clipper Skipper Eric Holden


  • Age: 34  
  • Nationality: Canadian   
  • Location: San Francisco 

How did you get involved with the Clipper race?

My older sister Roberta did two legs as a crew member back in 1999-2000 so I’ve known about it since then. I was just waiting for the opportunity to do it as a skipper myself.

What made you want to become a sailor?

Well really I was born on a boat. I lived on a boat since pretty much the day I was born until we were twelve years old. I started racing when I was eight so really it’s what I’ve been doing since I was a little kid and it’s kind of the thing I know best and probably the only thing I really know how to do well.   

Prior to Clipper you were a weather forecaster for the Canadian sailing team at London 2012. How has your knowledge as a professional meteorologist helped you in this race?

Well if you’ve seen the races that we’ve already done, we’ve done really well at the longer ocean races; going around the weather systems. What we need to work on now is our short game on some of the smaller sprints that are coming up.

Race start initially ceased due to thick fog resulting in a Le Mans start later on. As the lead skipper this came down to you to organise, what was it like trying to get all 12 Clipper 70s ready to restart the race?

That was exhausting. We motored through the night and probably an hour didn’t go by that one skipper wouldn’t call you up on the radio and ask you a question or offer you their unsolicited advice on what we should do next. So yes it was a long couple of days getting ready for that start!

How do the Clipper 70’s compare with the previous Clipper 68’s?

 What really drew me to doing the race this year was the new design and the new sportier bigger boat. Pretty much in all respects they are a much classier and faster boat and a lot more durable to sail.

The Clipper 70s are fully kitted with Harken hardware, how have you found the kit in getting you and your boat around the world?

Yeah that was really reassuring to see that the boat was kitted out with Harken. I mean all the race boats I’ve sailed on are kitted out with Harken so it was good to have these boats where we already know how to work the equipment and we know that it will work and get us around the world.

You have recently been awarded the Gerry Roufs Offshore Sailor of the Year Trophy at the 2013 Sail Canada Awards, as well as receiving the Sailor of the Month award in November last year. How does it feel to receive such great support from people back home?

The support from everyone back in Canada has been really amazing from all across the country. I am trying to encourage offshore sailing in Canada and promote it the best I can and so any recognition helps with that. Hopefully we’ll get more people involved not just in sailing in general but offshore sailing in particular.  

What deck hardware and maintenance techniques do you recommend for keeping your boat race ready?

Well every stopover we do a full winch service, clean it down and re-grease it, oil it and do everything that should be done. But the most important thing is really just getting the salt off and rinsing it as often as you can with fresh water.

What’s the funniest moment you’ve had on board so far?

It must have been leg one getting out of the doldrums when our water maker wasn’t working. This giant storm cloud came and we just had a torrential downpour! We all got out, ran up on deck dancing around washing and drinking as much as we could and everyone was just giddy!

What’s the biggest thing that’s gone wrong for Henri Lloyd in the race so far and what did you learn from it?

Unfortunately during the Sydney to Hobart race our rudder bearing failed. It turns out that the rudder bearings were insufficient on all the boats but they happened to fail on ours first and we had to retire from the race. But really I knew during this race as a first time on a new boat there are going to be challenges like that and new things we’ve got to learn from. So yeah it’s unfortunate but it’s part of sailing a boat for the first time around the world.

The Clipper race has some crew members doing individual legs and others completing the entire circumnavigation, how do you quickly integrate new crew members into the swing of things?

There’s really not a lot of time. I often have a really great team meal beforehand, a little bit of social time. But once we get going with the racing it’s pretty much asking them to get stuck in, ask questions and get involved. But you’re going to learn as you go; we can’t teach you everything right from the beginning so just get stuck in.  

What advice do you have for aspiring sailors out there?

Obviously do as much varied sailing as you can. If you are doing dinghy stuff try and get onto keelboats, doing round the cans, do some offshore stuff, just get as much experience as you can and lots of miles behind you. Then pick what you want to do and specialise. If you want to get out on the big boats you need to have a specific skill.


Eric Holden and the Henri Lloyd Clipper Crew


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