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24-Year-Old Skipper Claims Thrilling Clipper Race Win in The Whitsundays

January 18, 2018 Sports No Comments Email Email

Visit Seattle, led by 24-year-old British sailor Nikki Henderson, who is the youngest ever Skipper to lead a team in the race’s eleven editions, has held off a strong challenge from three other teams to chalk up a thrilling maiden victory in Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

One of the most challenging stages so far in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, Visit Seattle crossed the finish line off the coast of Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, Australia, at 15:05:36 local time (05:05:36UTC), completing the 1,600-nautical mile sprint up the east coast of Australia from Hobart in eleven days.

Arriving into Abell Point Marina where the Clipper Race fleet will be berthed, Skipper Nikki said: “It’s such a good feeling. I’m finally a bit more relaxed than the last 48 hours. It’s been exhausting!

“This race has been really, really tough in so many ways. So many different types of conditions and sail changes. The tactics have been really hard but we pushed all the way through. The crew loved the Southerly Busters, it was exciting. We had experience of similar conditions in the past and we’re used to that kind of thing. The crew handled it really well.”

There was disappointment for the other female Clipper Race Skipper, with Australia’s Wendy Tuck missing out on a third straight podium in the All-Australian Leg 4.

Wendy’s Sanya Serenity Coast was third across the finish line but has been slapped with a six-hour penalty by the Clipper Race Committee after breaching the two-nautical mile exclusion zone near Waddy Point, Fraser Island. Sanya Serenity Coast’s final position will be determined following the arrival of the rest of the Clipper Race fleet.

Wendy said: “It was disappointing to miss out on a podium in the Whitsundays but that’s ocean racing. It’s been great racing around Australia and we are really proud of the two podiums in the first two races of the All-Australian Leg 4, especially our result in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which is a very special race for me.

“This was a really tough race. There was so much upwind and whilst it was too rough but we were hit by two big Southerly Busters off the coast of Queensland which had a fair bit of wind in them. We had spectacular lightning storms and gusts of up to 78 knots so it was pretty dramatic.”

Liverpool 2018 was fourth across the line but has been boosted to third by Sanya Serenity Coast’s penalty, meaning the team has claimed its first podium result of the Clipper Race.

The eleven Clipper Race yachts, along with their crew and supporters, will be based at Abell Point Marina, the first global 5 Gold Anchor Accredited Marina in the world, during its stay in the Whitsundays. The stopover will be one to remember, with the crew to be welcomed by the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival – a two-weeklong celebration of events and activities showcasing the beauty of the Whitsundays.

Tourism Whitsundays Sales & Marketing Manager Tash Wheeler, who was down on the pontoons to greet the teams into Airlie Beach, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see a female skipper win the inaugural Wondrous Whitsundays Race and for one so young to pull off this feat is incredible.”

“What better place to win your first race than the beautiful Whitsundays! We are very excited to be showcasing the region to the Clipper Race crews, their families and friends, and hope they can take in as much as possible while here, including world famous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, and of course the Great Barrier Reef, including the iconic Heart Reef, visible only from the air and only in the Whitsundays.

“The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival will show the world that not only are we a world-class sailing destination but also a world-class holiday destination.”

More than 200 crew from all walks of life and representing 26 different nationalities, including 23 Australians, raced on board the fleet of eleven 70 foot ocean racing yachts in Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race, which completes the All-Australian Leg 4 of the Clipper 2017-18 Race.

The Clipper Race is unique as it is raced by people like you. In 1996, legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69, founded the race as a way to give everyone, no matter their sailing experience, the chance to become an ocean racer. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up for the 40,000 nautical miles circumnavigation, which is divided into eight legs and features six ocean crossings.

Race 7, which will see the teams head approximately 4,200 nautical miles to Sanya, the first of two Chinese stopovers in this next leg, starts on 29 January. From there, teams will head to Qingdao, China; across the mighty Pacific Ocean to Seattle; Panama; and New York; before heading back across the Atlantic to Derry-Londonderry. The Clipper 2017-18 Race finishes in Liverpool, UK, on July 28, 2018.

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