After eleven months of racing the world’s oceans, Sydney Skipper Wendy Tuck and many of the 50 other Australians who have competed were greeted by thousands of spectators along the banks of London’s Thames River today as they celebrated finishing the tenth edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Skippered by Wendy, her team Da Nang – Viet Nam finished in seventh place overall and enjoyed two podium finishes during the eleven month long journey, which included a memorable first place victory in the race into Hobart, Australia, and third place in the penultimate race of the competition just ten days ago.
Arriving back to London, where the teams departed eleven months ago, Skipper Wendy Tuck, 50, said: “It was very emotional coming up the River Thames in London this morning reflecting on everything we have been through the last 11 months. I am so proud of my team. They started as novices and now should be proud of what they have accomplished, tackling the worst conditions Mother Nature could throw up.
“We have experienced everything from hurricanes and a dramatic Pacific Ocean storm which knocked our yacht down in the Pacific and meant we had to limp into Seattle. I have never seen conditions like it and hope to never again,” added Wendy.
50 Australians competed in this year’s event. They include round the world crew member Jimmy Gannon, 31 from Queensland, who completed the entire race said at the Race Finish Prizegiving: “It’s wonderful to have completed such an achievement and see so many people come out to celebrate what you have done. It’s awesome and I’m loving it.
“If I had one word for this race its gruelling. It has been hard and challenging, at no point can you really relax its just always busy. I definitely have a few more wrinkles and grey hairs than I had before I left. The highlight has been the friends I have made the sailing has been great but the most important thing I have found from the whole race is the people. You put people in a really stressful situation out of the norm and they bond together, the friends I have made from this experience I will have for life, definitely,” Jimmy added.
Over 40,000 nautical miles long the Clipper Race, which started and finished in St Katharine Docks, is the longest, toughest ocean race on the planet and the only event of its kind which trains amateur crew to become ocean racers. 40 per cent of crew had no previous sailing experience before signing up, and only the Skipper on board is professional.
Throughout their almost year-long journey, which fewer people have completed than have climbed Mount Everest, the teams encountered the varying extremes of Mother Nature. From tropical storms and hurricane force winds, to searing heat and chilly conditions, the crew have sailed under clear starry nights, and witnessed the most incredible sunsets and sighted wildlife in some of the planet’s most remote locations.
The Clipper Race was founded by legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop round the world in 1968-69, to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience the chance to experience the thrill of ocean racing.
“This has been extremely tough,” said Sir Robin.
“The conditions encountered in the Pacific Ocean after the teams left Qingdao were the worst we’ve seen in 20 years of running the race. I am proud of all of the crew; they have taken on all the world’s most challenging oceans and have been very resilient. They should be justly proud of themselves – whether crossing a single ocean or circumnavigating the entire planet. It is a remarkable achievement. The novices who set out eleven months ago have returned as seasoned sailors,” Sir Robin added.
A total of 700 crew members from 44 different countries took part in the Clipper 2015-16 Race, all of whom come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from nurses to firefighters, students to retirees, farmers, housewives, CEOs and surgeons. Aged 19 to 75 with no upper age limit enforced, crew can choose to compete either in the whole circumnavigation or one or more of its eight legs.
The Clipper 2015-16 Race departed London on 30 August 2015 and visited 14 different ports in ten different countries during the race series. The route took teams from London to Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany (Western Australia), Sydney, Airlie Beach (the Whitsundays), Da Nang (Vietnam), Qingdao (China), Seattle, Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry, and Den Helder (the Netherlands), and back to London.
Held biennially, the next edition of the Clipper Race will start in Summer 2017.