Racing Around the World for a Cause - Holly Williams and Team UNICEF | Modern Sailing

Racing Around the World for a Cause - Holly Williams and Team UNICEF

Former Modern Sailing member and student Holly Williams has circumnavigated the earth in the Clipper Round the World Race with Team UNICEF!

In the process, Holly also raised nearly $14,000 for UNICEF to help support the cause of children's wellness worldwide. Together, Team UNICEF raised over $128,000, exceeding their fundraising goal by 219%!

August 2022

On August 3, we received our final update from Holly on her circumnavigation with Team UNICEF.

"We've done it! Team UNICEF finished first in the final race into London and 5th place overall in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 19-20/22! Eleven months racing over 48,000 nm, 2 years in COVID shutdown in the Philippines, finally a circumnavigation achieved and over a million pounds raised for UNICEF! Thanks for your support. I return to San Francisco next week."

Welcome home, Dr. Holly, and a HUGE congratulations from all of us at Modern Sailing!

February 2022

We were glad to hear from Holly again this February. The race is back on and will resume out of the Phillipines!

"My Round The World Yacht Race is back on! I fly out to the Philippines February 20 to start getting the UNICEF boat and team ready to race again. We leave the Philippines March 20 and expect to arrive in Seattle by April 21 (no China stopover - cancelled). The next stopovers are Panama, Bermuda, New York City, and Northern Ireland before arriving to the finale in London July 30. Then I will be a Circumnavigator, having started from London Sept. 1, 2019!  I'll be flying back home to San Francisco August 4th.

"I just sold my 20 year-old Beneteau 473 Seas The Day as a trade in for a new 2022 Oceanis 40.1. The new boat is due to be shipped from the factory in May and then will complete commissioning over the summer while I am away. The plan is for her to be ready for me to sail in August after I complete my Circumnavigation. Her name will be Nai'a (Hawaiian for dolphin).

"Below are some links about the Race and some cool photos are attached."

- Holly Williams, MD
Pediatric Surgeon and Aspiring Circumnavigator

Clipper Race Viewer/Tracker showing the position of each yacht (look for team "UNICEF").

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race on YouTube

Upcoming Race Distances and Details for Remainder of Clipper 2019-20(22) Race:

  • Race 10 Subic Bay to Seattle starts March 20, 2022. Approx. 6100 nm, 27-32 days.
  • Race 11 Seattle to Panama starts April 30. Approx. 4180 nm, 25-30 days.
  • Race 12 Panama to Bermuda estimated to  start June 2 following canal crossing. Approx. 1720 nm, 9-11 days.
  • Race 13 Bermuda to New York starts June 19. Approx. 700 nm, 4-5 days.
  • Race 14 New York to Derry starts June 29. Approx. 2990 nm, 15-19 days.
  • Race 15 Derry to London starts July 24. Approx. 850 nm, 5 days.

Joys of the Southern Ocean

Arriving at Subic Bay, Phillipines

Podium celebration.

Next Update - August 2022 
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March 2020

Three months after her last update, Holly wrote us again from the Phillipines.

"Hello from the Philippines. Glad you have been following the Race.

"This Circumnavigation is really an endurance super challenge - physical and mental! China stopovers were cancelled because of COVID-19. So since leaving Australia and reaching within a few  hundred miles off South China we've been sailing around the Philippines and Japanese Islands with shorter races of between 5-12 days, next one starts tomorrow. Will be back in Subic Bay March 16-20, leaving March 21 to cross the North Pacific to Seattle, over 6,000 nautical miles.

Have been interacting this stopover with UNICEF-Pacific. Very interesting - logistical challenges and rapid response to measles outbreak Samoa and Fiji.

Recent photos from our Second Place podium finish [this leg] are attached as well as a photo of my "sick bay" of injured crew members. I've been kept very busy with 4 roles aboard: surgeon, sail master, helm, and assistant watch leader."

- Holly Williams, MD
Pediatric Surgeon and Aspiring Circumnavigator


Next Update - February 2022 
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January 2020

All the way from Fremantle, Australia, former Modern Sailing student and Global Destinations client Dr. Holly Williams sent us an update on her progress with Team UNICEF in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race.

"Happy New Year, everyone! Leg 3 from Capetown, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia was a grueling 33-day slog through the Indian and Southern Oceans. We sailed an extra 1500 nm and 9 days with a diversion back to Durban for medevac of two crew - acute appendicitis and a broken jaw. This made our stopover in Fremantle extremely short but we managed to get the boat ready for Leg 4. We sailed around the southern tip of Tasmania and up to the Whitsundays, spending Christmas and New Year's at sea. My Team UNICEF came in 3rd place. Our fundraising and awareness campaigns for UNICEF have been going well. Much of this stopover has been taken up by sail repair but I did get to have one day off to go scuba diving. Tomorrow we begin Leg 5 of the Race - to China. Hope all is well with you. Cheers."

We admire Dr. Holly's dedication to sailing and to the advancement of children's wellness worldwide. To learn more about Holly and support her UNICEF fundraising campaign, visit her JustGiving page Holly's Clipper Round the World Race 2019-20. You can also read about, see photos, and watch videos of all the gritty, inspiring, and entertaining details of life aboard an ocean racing yacht by following the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race - Unicef page on Facebook.

Fair winds and following seas, Holly and Team UNICEF! 


Next Update - March 2020
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August 2019

Holly Williams' sailing story begins with dinghy racing in college, and later gaining experience as crew on larger boats. In the 1990's, she bought and lived aboard a Catalina 30 in Sausalito. Now a pediatric surgeon and still an avid sailor, she owns a Beneteau 473 in Emeryville and Baltimore, sailing equally on the San Francisco Bay and Chesapeake Bay for the last 15 years. She also holds a USCG 100 Ton Master Captain's License and has crewed on deliveries from Hawaii to San Francisco and along the California coast.

Holly credits Modern Sailing School & Club with formalizing her sailing education (ASA 103 through 108) and for introducing her to vacation chartering. Over the years she has enjoyed no less than 14 fantastic Global Destinations adventures with fellow MSC sailors and captains, most memorably in French Polynesia and Morocco.

The next big adventure for Holly is a year-long circumnavigation of the globe as a competitor in the 2019-20 Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, which starts September 1 from London. The race, divided into 8 legs, will be between eleven matched 70' twin rudder open ocean yachts with professional skippers and amateur international crew.

Holly will sail with Team UNICEF to raise money and awareness for this worthy charity that helps protect and care for children in crisis.

For more information on the race and Holly's campaign or donate to UNICEF, click here:


Next Update - January 2020
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  • John Boynton

    The class was terrific. I know you must get many compliments about your sailing instructors...But I must tell you that Robert is outstanding. Having taught SCUBA, I really appreciate the way he is so sensitive to all on board, dealing with each so well, knowing quickly their strengths and weaknesses making each feel special and cared for.

  • Esther C

    I took ASA 101 with them recently. They have the best customer service I've ever seen! I mistyped my address when I signed up online so didn't receive the textbook. I called and the lady immediately sent me another copy! Everyone at the club is super friendly.

  • Trudy Flores

    Captain Jeff Cathers is really cool. I had such a great time on the Farallones Day Trip. It was actually my very best day of 2020. Thank you so much for coordinating the trip.

    Farallones trip

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