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Clipper Race Fleet Closes in On Whitsundays

January 16, 2018 Sports No Comments Email Email

The leading Clipper Race teams are less than 24 hours away from the Whitsundays, with Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck pushing for a third straight podium position in the All-Australian Leg 4 of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.

After more than a week of upwind racing from Hobart, Tasmania, the fleet is predicted to fly home on the back of a sustained 15-20 knot SE wind all the way to the finish off the coast of Airlie Beach.

Visit Seattle, Skippered by 24 year old British sailor Nikki Henderson, currently holds a slender lead over the second placed Liverpool 2018, whilst Wendy Tuck’s Sanya Serenity Coast is in third place with less than 300 nautical miles remaining of the 1,600 nautical mile race which began in Hobart on January 6.

The winner of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race could be decided as early as tomorrow afternoon, with the leading three teams, Visit Seattle, Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast currently expected to arrive between 1400 and 2000 on Wednesday 16 January.

Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck, who has claimed line honours in the two races so far in the All-Australian Leg 4, said: “Last night we were treated to a wonderful light show over the land. What was especially good was the electrical show and the accompanying wind did not venture out offshore, so all good. It did change the direction of the wind for a while though and we were able to sail exactly where we wanted to for a change.”

One of the crew members on board Sanya Serenity Coast is Airlie Beach local Nigel Pemberton, who is one of six Queenslanders taking part in the All-Australian Leg 4, which began in Fremantle on December 2 and included the 73rd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. A total of 26 different nationalities are represented on board the eleven 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race has served up some of the most dramatic and mixed weather conditions of the Clipper 2017-18 Race so far. During an impressive electrical storm overnight, Qingdao, in ninth place ahead of Unicef in eighth, was hit by a lightning strike which has affected some of its on board electrical systems and instruments.

All crew are safe and well, the yacht is fully under control and the team is still racing. Qingdao is currently utilising battery powered navigation lights at night and is able to charge the boat batteries via the main engine in neutral, which does not contravene any race rules. It also has GPS functioning normally on the Garmin chart plotter for navigational use, and a handheld GPS as a backup, however it is unlikely that the crew or Skipper will be able to send back any blogs or emails for the remainder of this race.

After each of the eleven teams completed the frustratingly slow Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, it was revealed that Unicef, PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain came out on top to claim three, two and one bonus race points respectively. Despite the slow progress, less than twelve minutes actually separated the top two teams.

Andy Burns, Skipper of GREAT Britain which is currently in sixth place in this race, says: “Coming second in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint has certainly given the crew that little boost they needed for the final push”.

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.

More than 700 people from all walks of life and representing 41 different nationalities are taking part in the eleventh edition of the biennial Clipper Race, including 47 Australians. They are racing on eleven identical stripped back 70-foot ocean racing yachts, each led by a professional Skipper.

As well as Australia, the global Clipper 2017-18 Race route also includes stopovers in Punta del Este, Cape Town, Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry and Liverpool, where the eleven month race will finish on 28 July, 2018.

The latest Estimated Time of Arrivals for the teams into Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach, are below and will be updated regularly on the Clipper Race website as the teams approach the Finish Line.

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