Ten Amateur Crews Left Southampton for a New Round the World Yacht Race
The Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier, HMS Illustrious, and a fleet of hundreds of spectator boats gave a spectacular send off to the amateur crews on board the ten yachts competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.
(July 31, 2011)- The event, ‘raced by people like you’, is the world’s longest ocean race at 40,000 miles and set off from Southampton this afternoon. It is the first time since 2004 that a round the world yacht race has started from the iconic sailing grounds of the Solent and the large community of sailing and boating enthusiasts turned out in force to witness the spectacle under blue skies and eight to ten knots of breeze.
The south/south-easterly direction of the wind prompted Race Director, Joff Bailey, to opt for the course that took the yachts from west to east across the start line when the cannon fired at the Royal Yacht Squadron. First to charge across, and clearly intent on keeping the Clipper Trophy Down Under, was race debutant, Gold Coast Australia, closely followed by compatriots Geraldton Western Australia. Keppel Corporation-sponsored Singapore also made a strong start to in third place across the start line, with New York, De Lage Landen and the bright pink Welcome to Yorkshire in hot pursuit. Visit Finland was next with the dragon of Qingdao breathing down their neck. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Derry-Londonderry completed the order on the start line as the fleet chased across the Solent towards the first mark at Stokes Bay in Gosport, where the race is headquartered and where hundreds more spectators were watching from the beach.
The Clipper Race is the only race in the world where the crews come from all walks of life, all ages and with all levels of experience. Prior to their training, some 40 per cent of the crews had never stepped aboard a sailing yacht before. Race start day was an emotional experience for the crew and their families and friends who had come to support them on their challenge of a lifetime.
David Hall is a teacher in everyday life but for the next 12 months he will be racing around the world on Qingdao, the yacht representing the sailing capital of China and Southampton’s twin city. The 37-year-old said, “This is the right time of my life to be able to finally fulfil this dream of mine. It will be hard being 12 months without my family but my wife is very supportive and will be coming to meet me in Australia and following me to each of the stops. She is almost as excited as me which means I am very lucky.”
Ahead of David and the rest of the 500 crew who have signed up to the challenge of a lifetime lies a 12-month-long, 40,000-mile course that will take the race to Madeira before crossing to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and then on to Cape Town, Western Australia, New Zealand, the Gold Coast in Australia, Singapore, Qingdao in China, California, Panama, New York, Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry and Den Helder in the Netherlands. The race will make its triumphant return to the Solent on 22 July 2012.
The Clipper Race is the brainchild of legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world. He wanted to open the sport of long distance sailing to all and allow others to experience the challenges of ocean racing.
“I just want to say a big thank you to Southampton because coming up with the idea of starting the race from here, bringing back ocean racing to the city, bringing events into the city, creating a buzz, and you’ve just got to take a look around to realise what a fabulous buzz… this supports the Southampton economy but it puts Southampton on the map again, makes people realise what a great city this is. I want to thank you for coming down to give our crews a fabulous send off – something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. These crews are not professional sailors – these are people from all walks of life going out and doing something extraordinary with their lives.”
More info at: www.clipperroundtheworld.com
Order of teams across the start line:
* First: Gold Coast Australia
* Second Geraldton Western Australia
* Third Singapore
* Fourth New York
* Fifth De Lage Landen
* Sixth Welcome to Yorkshire
* Seventh Visit Finland
* Eighth Qingdao
* Ninth Edinburgh Inspiring Capital
* Tenth Derry-Londonderry
Slow progress as wind drops for first night at sea
After the magnificent send off from Southampton yesterday the ten teams taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race have spent their first night at sea, settling into new routines that will become second nature during the course of the next year.
(August 1, 2011)- As the sun set on race start day, the wind died and by the early hours there was barely a breath of air to fill the huge windseeker sails. Gold Coast Australia was first out of the starting blocks, first around the mark in Stokes Bay and pulled out a good lead over the rest of the fleet but as skipper, Richard Hewson, explains, light winds overnight have thrown a bit of a spanner in the works.
"After a cracking start Gold Coast Australia led the fleet out of the Solent and we hoisted the medium weight spinnaker beautifully as we rounded Bembridge Ledge. We carried the spinnaker throughout the first part of the night but then suffered big losses stuck without wind as the fleet caught up and now draws abeam. The crew is now working hard in light and fickle winds to maintain boat speed and get through shipping lanes in the Channel. All is well and buzzing on board as we settle into the watch system and first day of an epic 12-month journey around the world."
"Good morning from the mid channel mill pond," says Singapore skipper, Ben Bowley. "It's been a long time coming but finally we're off! Our procession down Southampton Water yesterday was quite awe inspiring; a huge thanks to the Captain and crew of Lusty for providing such a great send off. Seeing such a large flotilla of spectator boats really brought home to us the enormity of what it is we are about to undertake, huge thanks and a fond farewells to those who came to show their support.
"We had good (albeit very cautious) start aboard Singapore with only Gold Coast Australia ahead of us on the line. I was initially lamenting my choice of headsail (Yankee 2) as we seemed a little underpowered compared to the majority of the fleet. However, as the Yankee 2 is non-overlapping we were able to climb higher than those carrying the Yankee 1 and subsequently held good position making it round the first mark still in second place. As we approached the forts with the wind easing we changed up to the Yankee 1, a flawless change (quite surprising for the first one!) all credit to the crew and watch leaders. The headsail change cost us only one place and some close cross tacking ensued, the yachts all feeling different tidal effects from one side of the Solent to the other.
"The last 12 hours have been quite frustrating with a distinct lack of breeze. We elected not to fly a spinnaker last night for two good reasons: firstly, I'm keen to sail the rhumb line and it was too tight for the kite as several of the other yachts have proved by having to sail almost due west. Secondly, the idea of wrapping the kite on the first night at sea in fluky wind conditions with heavy wash from shipping was not my idea of fun. On refection, the Yankee 1 and main alone have set us fairly well and although it is hard to judge positions at present, I believe we are in the front group, still fairly on the rhumb line, exactly where we wish to be.
"Now it is time for some strong coffee, porridge and a look at whether the light kite would be advantageous now the sun is up and we are all well rested and alert..."
After all the excitement and emotion of yesterday's spectacular send off, sunrise on a new day has also brought some a new emotional atmosphere to Visit Finland, which didn't have the best of starts in the Solent but whose crew have worked hard overnight to pull into the lead by the 0600 UCT report this morning. Skipper, Olly Osborne, sums up what a difference a day makes, saying, "A night of little or no breeze has kept us busy trimming and trying to keep the boat on the move. The dawn is hazy and the sea appears glassy in the morning light, and the quiet stands in sharp contrast to the noise and emotion of yesterday."
A lot of that noise came from the flotilla of more than 300 spectator boats which turned out to give the fleet a fantastic send off. Gareth Glover, skipper of New York, says, "The boats of the flotilla gave us great support. Individual cheers from friends and family had the crew jumping from their hike-out seats to identify themselves and shout back fond farewells."
New York was up with the leading pack at the start and has maintained pressure at the front despite the lack of wind. "The wind started slowing down and died completely around 0230 just as the second watch came on deck. All that our attempts to coax some boat speed with the wind-seeker would get us was a bit of bobbing around and just the tide speed. It is morning again and we are moving along at about four knots with the mid weight spinnaker flying, Welcome to Yorkshire for company and Visit Finland south of us," Gareth continues.
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital's skipper, Gordon Reid, says, "After an amazing but emotional race start the team is working hard to keep the boat moving in the very light breeze and strong tides of the English Channel. Tactically Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is in a strong position having already crossed the northern shipping lane and heading towards Casquets. At this early stage in the race, it is very much all to play for."
That is a fact that will be reassuring to the Qingdao crew who, as you will see from their track on the race viewer, appear to be heading back to Southampton, so good was the welcome there this weekend.
In fact they were in the wrong place when the tide turned and are being pulled east, in the opposite direction to the one they wish to travel in. They have two knots of breeze but the speed of the tide against them is more and therefore they are effectively moving backwards. They are trying to use their sea anchor - known as a kedge - to hold them in position off Portland until the tide turns and they can shake loose.
Juan Coetzer, Geraldton Western Australia's skipper, says "Today it is a drift-a-thon. It has been sail change after sail change - Yankee 1 up, then down, spinnaker up and down. The crew are settling in well and giving it their best. Yesterday was an amazing start, so many boats, supporting us all on the start line."
Derry-Londonderry's crew is also settling in and, according to skipper, Mark Light, they're all relaxed, settling in to the watch system, even enjoying a chicken curry and home-made fruit cake for dinner.
"It was a great start to the race with beautiful conditions. We need some more wind now though - it dropped overnight and we're making slow progress under full main and spinnaker."
RACE 1: SOUTHAMPTON TO MADEIRA
Another night of light winds has continued to test the ten teams competing in Clipper 11-12. The tricky sailing conditions have been added to by busy shipping lanes and the depth of water in which anchors had to be dropped in order to prevent boats moving backwards in strong counter currents and no wind.
Having lead the fleet out of the Solent on race start day, Gold Coast Australia now find themselves in fourth place.
Skipper Rich Hewson, says, “Gold Coast Australia has seen in the dawn of yet another day in the race making best use of very fickle and variable wind. A strong current was pushing us away from our destination but my decision not to drop the kedge anchor at this point was made easy, not only because of the 150 metre water depth but our course had us drifting straight through an old explosives dumping ground!
“The tide finally turned but this brought with it new problems, as now the ebbing tide started to take us straight towards a Traffic Separation Scheme. We could do little but maintain our heading at 90 degrees to the direction of traffic flow and work hard to ensure we did not go into the scheme or obstruct any shipping which was fortunately minimal.
“Once clear of the shipping channel, we started to pick our way back up the fleet. The lightweight spinnaker was hoisted as soon as we realised a small pressure system was developing close by, which resulted in light northerly winds. Gold Coast Australia is now steaming out of the now despised tidal systems of the Channel Islands, and towards Maderia, hot on the heels of the leading boats.”
Moving into the lead overnight were Visit Finland and US entry New York, both of whom opted to keep the island of Alderney to starboard, a good decision as this morning’s position reports have revealed.
“A bright and promising day with a promise of some thermal winds after another night of light airs,” reports the Finnish entry’s skipper, Olly Osborne. “Visit Finland was one of the four boats to head through the Alderney Race late last night and we are now head to head with New York in a spinnaker drag race toward Ushant.”
Either side of Alderney are two of the most notorious currents in the world, The Alderney Race and the Swinge, so timing your passage is paramount. Get it wrong and you can find yourself being pushed in the opposite direction in up to 7 knots of tide.
Yesterday morning New York were behind Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire, but have fought hard to close the gap as crew member John Finney, a company director in everyday life, reports:
“The wind duly arrived early yesterday morning and with Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit Finland up ahead we set off in pursuit – it was great fun trying to squeeze the last knot from the wind with all of us trying like mad to get past Alderney before the tide changed. An extra bit of excitement came at 4pm as we celebrated Yorkshire Day with a gift box from the Yorkshire entry. The cheese and biscuits were a nice touch as we heard that the English cricket team looked well on top to beat India and become the number one cricket team in the world. And then it all went bad… the wind dropped and the tide turned when we were just off Alderney leaving us no choice but to anchor up in 46 metres of water.
“As the wind returned we had the chore of raising the anchor at midnight, what a slog pulling up the anchor was! Then we where off again, spinnaker up and into first position with Visit Finland on our shoulder.”
As the team celebrated their special day, the crew on board Welcome to Yorkshire has had to deal with a mentally tough 24 hours according to skipper Rupert Dean.
“From being in the leading pack of three earlier in the day as we approached Alderney Race, we now find ourselves among the back markers. For some reason I ignored my instincts and followed Visit Finland into the Alderney Race with the favourable tide. As a result, we ended becalmed in the middle of the Race, level with southern Alderney, while the rest of the fleet kept their apparent wind and flew over the top. As the tide changed, it rapidly forced us north with it until a helpful eddy off north-west Alderney allowed us to put the anchor down in shelter - a better option than trying to hold the boat in 50 metres of water in a 6 knot tide.
“Morale has taken a bit of a battering since our fall from grace. However, the challenges we have faced over the past 24 hours have bonded our team and the onus is now on to claw back the miles lost.”
Joining Visit Finland, New York and Welcome to Yorkshire through the Alderney Race was Scottish entry Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
Skipper Gordon Reid says, “Like the other teams, the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital crew are finding the light winds and strong tides a real challenge. After spending five hours with the kedge anchor down just south of Alderney in 45 metres of water, the good ship Edinburgh is on the move again, setting for a shy spinnaker and praying for the wind to pick up. Crew moral is high and we are still busy tweaking and arranging. Every cloud has a silver lining and at least we have time to continue to optimise this race.”
Opting to keep Alderney to port and risk the strong currents of the Swinge, Singapore, like many of the teams last night, found themselves also having to drop anchor.
“The last 24 hours have seen us kedge in some pretty interesting places, the top of the Swinge between Alderney and Burhou being particularly tricky,” explains Singapore’s skipper, Ben Bowley. “It required over 250 metres of warp in 20 metres of water to hold us against the 6 knot tide! The extra stress came once the tide turned and started to suck us through the Swinge with barely enough wind to give us any steerage, pretty scary in the pitch black.”
The Singaporean team are currently in a tussle with one of the two Australian entries in Clipper 11-12, Geraldton Western Australia, who have also spent the last 24 hours dropping and raising their anchor.
Skipper Juan Coetzer says, It has been an interesting 24 hours. We dropped the anchor twice, just to stem the tide, last night dropping it in 65 metres of water. The anchor chain and warps length was about 150 meters and it was no mean feet to pick it back up manually.
“I have a brilliant crew, they are enthusiastic and hard working and are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the boat moving.”
Whilst many of the teams dropped anchor off the coast of Alderney in order to hold themselves against the turning tide, skipper of Derry-Londonderry joined the skipper of Gold Coast Australia’s decision in keeping the anchor stowed on board.
“We were hoping to clear Alderney by the time the tide turned but Mother Nature intervened and the wind went to find others. We have been becalmed for much of the night and being in a disused explosive dumping ground and 80 metres of water, found that anchoring would not be clever. This race started with a bang and none of us wanted another one!”
Meanwhile, after their decision to take a more northerly course to the rest of the fleet, Qingdao has found themselves moving from first place to last in the space of 12 hours, but morale is high on board.
“Another good day and night on the purple dragon!” exclaims skipper Ian Conchie. “We have continued to head west and managed to keep some reasonable boat speed all day. The boat is looking good with everything now getting stowed in the right place and the crew settling into the watches.
“This morning finds us again fighting the wind gods so we have dropped the anchor again to await the return of the wind. Lots of laughter around the boat and the media team are hoping that they may have won the prize for the first edited video!”
Each of the teams regularly send back blogs, pictures and videos from on board to keep race followers and their supporters up to date. You can read and view these on the ‘Follow’ section of the Clipper 11-12 Race website: www.clipperroundtheworld.com
RACE 1: SOUTHAMPTON TO MADEIRA
• First teams expected in Madeira today
• Joy of downwind sailing helps teams erase Biscay pain
• Beards, bruises and boasts of masterly tactical nous…
It’s going to be a busy day in Madeira today as the yachts begin to make landfall at the end of the first race of Clipper 11-12. Gold Coast Australia is expected between 1400 and 1500 local time (1300-1400 GMT). The team, having made the tactical decision to go east for better winds and favourable currents, has consistently been extending its lead over the last 24 hours and is now 54 miles closer to the finish than the Finns.
It’s interesting to note that Qingdao has made a similar move during the last day and may well be able to capitalise on it to gain some all-important extra points.
There is a comfortable margin between second placed Visit Finland and the chasing pack which has just 13 miles between third and seventh places.
Visit Finland’s navigator, Tomi Lintonen, a research director from Tampere, Finland, who is taking time out of his job to compete on Leg 1 of Clipper 11-12, says, “Another racing day under near perfect sailing conditions with the crew frequently inquiring about the Madeira ETA (estimated time of arrival). Different route choices at Cape Finisterre appear to have caused quite a spread in the fleet. The eastern route obviously paid off but our conservative choice of sticking near the rhumb line seems to have worked second best so far. Needless to say, we are all waiting eagerly for official reports on how our rivals have been performing during the night. No land in sight yet!”
Skipper, Olly Osborne, and his team can’t rest on their laurels, though. A simple mistake could cost them their second place as Singapore’s close shave with their medium weight spinnaker yesterday afternoon demonstrates.
Ben Bowley explains, “The true wind started to build to over 20 knots and, whilst considering a racing change to the heavy kite, the unthinkable happened. We rolled hard off one wave and ended up with the wind on the wrong side of the boat and the kite wrapped around the forestay. Having got the wind back on the correct side of the boat there was an element of desperate pulling and tugging on various tapes of the kite. We were lucky and it refilled after just a minute of being wrapped not, however, without a small rip in the centre where it had dragged across the forestay. All hands were called up for an immediate drop and re-hoist of the heavy spinnaker. This evolution was seamless and it was not long before we were charging along at good pace again and the sewing machine was humming away merrily in the saloon – not for the last time this year I imagine!”
This all happened in an eventful day during which Singapore enjoyed some furious boat on boat racing with De Lage Landen. You can read Ben’s full report in the ‘Follow’ section of www.clipperroundtheworld.com <http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com> .
New York has been at the head of the peleton for most of this race and as they near land thoughts are turning to priorities once they reach shore, according to Leg 1 crew member, Andrew Priest, who has taken a break from his job in executive search to race across the Atlantic Ocean in the challenge of a lifetime.
The 41-year old from London, UK, says, “Key targets include new socks, non-itching pants, bacon sandwiches, kippers (??), a broad range of cocktails and the chance to email and call home without the background chatter of fellow crewmates and attendant 45 degree lean.
“Talking of heel, New York has been on a broad reach since early morning yesterday when we finally escaped the clutches of a miserable wind hole which had held us at bay for 12 hours. Since then we have experienced the best of fast downwind sailing with strong sun, enticing blue seas and steady, near-20 knot breezes.
“By late evening the swell had increased giving us the chance to test the surfing capability of New York for the first real time on this leg. Sure enough, a race boat designed for just such sailing delivered an exhilarating, sometimes too much so, ride with speeds of almost 14 knots as we surfed in the pitch black early hours, down rollers cresting with white plumes of spray. Great fun although the near broach followed immediately by a near crash gybe did spring anxious cries of, ‘Helm!!!’
“We are now about to gybe and set course for our finish line and with five boats now just ten miles apart and racing for third place it will be a nail-biting finish. For most, though, the race is only one way of keeping reckoning and the bars and restaurants of Madeira will be abuzz with talk of the last week's downwind sprints, wind holes and Bay of Biscay pain as crews meet up again for the first time since we left Southampton nine days ago.
“Beards, bruises and boasts of high courage, masterly tactical nous and fearlessness in the face of misfortune will all bear witness to a great first week as we prepare the boats tomorrow for the next passage, this time to Rio.”
Derry-Londonderry is snapping at New York’s heels and skipper, Mark Light, says it has been a stunning night’s sailing.
“I think we had everything,” he reports this morning. “Powering along at ten knots with full main and medium kite, broad reaching, warm air, shooting stars, clear skies, flat seas and even dolphins came to play. I reminded the crew that it is not every day that you get to helm an around the world race yacht in such beautiful conditions... enjoy it! I know that five boats are all very close to each other (including us) so the finish line in Madeira will be a busy place later today.”
Welcome to Yorkshire’s skipper, Rupert Dean, gives us a light hearted insight into life on board and ocean racing yacht with an amusing soliloquy about pants this morning. You can read the full thing in the team diary pages <http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/index.php/follow/crew-diaries/> of the official race website, www.clipperroundtheworld.com, and put yourself in the place of one of the 18 crew living in the close confines of a 68-foot boat.
“More seriously,” he says, “it is now not far to go and a real drag race with Derry-Londonderry, Singapore, De Lage Landen and New York to the finish line. Spinnakers have now been up for over 24 hours and it is with great relief that we are currently charging along. Everything to play for in this closely fought race. We're all looking forward to meeting up for a cold beer in Madeira.”
Geraldton Western Australia’s skipper, Juan Coetzer reports his team are in high spirits because, “Down-wind sailing is great. It means that the boat is pretty level and the crew can get on with their daily chores a little easier. For the mother watch, it gives them an opportunity to experiment and spoil the crew. For lunch we had home-made crab cakes, tea-time chocolate brownies and popcorn. At night time the crew are now able to perform complex evolutions - poled out headsails and one tack to another with very few hiccups. Life is good on the high seas.”
“The crew is loving it, loving it!” exclaims Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s skipper, Gordon Reid. “We’re continuing our mission to get the boat moving fast and sometimes she delivers, much to the delight of all on board. After a long day in very light winds, creeping along under the wind seeker, in the wee small hours of yesterday morning, well before dawn we moved into a fairly stable wind zone with the wind from the northeast. Up went the spinnaker and she roared into action.
“Everything was going so well until the early evening when the spinnaker decided it fancied a swim. Following our successful recovery of the sail we poled out the Yankee 2 and the staysail on opposite sides and have maintained that fast, stable configuration, blasting downwind as the wind strength continues to build.”
The team representing Scotland’s capital city is now neck and neck with the team representing China’s sailing capital, Qingdao, in the race to Madeira.
Skipper of the Chinese entry, Ian Conchie, says, “It’s been a fast and fun 24 hours. We finally got some good sailing wind from the north so we hoisted the medium weight spinnaker and off we went like a rocket in comparison to the last few days.
“We held the kite all day and all night which was a bit of a baptism of fire for most of the crew but we made it through fine, although we did put a couple of small tears in the sail but that just gave us an excuse to swap to the heavyweight whilst it was being repaired by the crew.
“Last night really showed how far everyone has come since signing up to take part in the Clipper Race, for the most part with limited or no big boat sailing experience, and here they were controlling a 68-foot ocean racing machine, planing downwind fully powered up.”
Positions at 0900 UTC, Tuesday 9 August
1 Gold Coast Australia 37nm
2 Visit Finland 91nm (+54nm DTL*)
3 New York 141nm (+103nm)
4 Derry-Londonderry 145nm (+107nm)
5 Singapore 147nm (+109nm)
6 Welcome to Yorkshire 148nm (+110nm)
7 De Lage Landen 153nm (+116nm)
8 Geraldton Western Australia 200nm (+162nm)
9 Qingdao 226nm (+189nm)
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 227nm (+189nm)
*DTF = Distance to Finish, DTL = Distance to Leader
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at www.clipperroundtheworld.com.
Australian victory in first race of Clipper 11-12
(August 9, 2011) Gold Coast Australia, one of two Australian teams competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, has secured victory in the first race from Southampton to Madeira, crossing the finish line at 1337 local time (1237GMT). For the final part of the 1,340-mile leg it has been a two-way battle for supremacy between the Gold Coast entry and Visit Finland. The Finnish team are set to take second place and are expected to cross the finish line later this evening.
Shortly after the team pulled alongside at the Quinta Do Lorde Marina, skipper of Gold Coast Australia, 31-year-old Richard Hewson from Tasmania, said, “I feel fantastic and I’m very happy with our result. It’s great to have a podium up on the board this early into the race. It’s a great feeling.”
When asked what the secret of the team’s success was, the skipper replied, “Hard work at the start of the race; the crew and I spent a lot of time getting the boat ready and prepared. Tactics also played a big part, I was looking at the pressure and weather systems throughout the race and I saw a nice little bit of wind off the coast of Spain and Portugal and we basically headed over and got straight in to it. We had the kite up from then on, flying along at around 10 to 13 knots. And finally, the third secret to our success was the amount of training we put in. The crew trained really hard for this and they’ve definitely come a long way. Everyone had a go at helming on the way down and considering some of these guys have never sailed before their four weeks’ training it’s just an amazing achievement for everyone.”
Despite an excellent start and leading the Clipper fleet out of the Solent at the beginning of the 40,000-mile race around the world, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the east coast Australian entry. All the teams were caught out on the first night when the wind died, forcing the crews to drop their kedge anchors to prevent their boats going backwards with the tide. The fickle conditions continued and on day two Gold Coast Australia found themselves trapped in a wind hole and watched as the majority of the fleet sailed past. However, the competitive Aussie spirit never left them and they gradually fought their way back up the fleet until a decision to gybe east saw the team eventually steal the lead from Visit Finland.
As with all ten teams taking part in Clipper 11-12, Gold Coast Australia’s crew come from all walks of life, all ages and have different levels of sailing experience. Lisa Blair is a 27-year-old shop assistant from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and has flown halfway round the world to take part in her challenge of a lifetime.
Speaking from the dockside, Lisa said, ““For me it really lived up to all my expectations. We were first off the line and had a slow couple of days when we were caught by a few wind holes but then there was the big catch up, falling from first to ninth place and then back up to first place again.
“Sailing through the Bay of Biscay was something I was really looking forward to, I’d read so much about it and it’s such an infamous place and it really lived up to its reputation. We were freezing cold and miserable the whole time, but that’s OK because when we got through there we just had pristine, perfect downwind sailing conditions, surfing waves. I surfed a wave at 15 knots so I was extremely happy with that.
“I feel great! How could you not feel great? Being able to represent my own state and come in first on the first race has really set the bar for the rest of the round the world race. So hopefully we’ll pull in a few more firsts along the way.”
Joining the friends and family members of the crew to welcome the team were representatives from Quinta Do Lorde Marina, the Madeira Wine Company and Madeira International Business Centre who have laid on a packed social programme for crews to enjoy during their short stopover. After the deep cleans and essential maintenance have taken place the crew will have some time to explore the beautiful island with a jeep tour and visit to the Madeira Wine Caves and a tour round the island’s capital, Funchal City, where they will have the chance to sample the local cuisine and taste the Madeira wine that the island is renowned for. The crews will rejoin their boats on Friday 12 August for the next leg of the race across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is scheduled to start at 1630 local time (1530GMT).