First of Clipper Fleet Arrives At CYCA

  • Racing
  • NEWS
  • By Stacey French
  • 13 Dec 2015 11:00:00
Brendan Esposito AAP/Clipper Race

LMAX Exchange celebrates victory


A fleet of twelve identical 70-foot ocean racing yachts, with 225 crew representing 27 different nationalities has started to arrive at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, in Sydney Harbour this weekend, ahead of its participation in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR).

The tenth edition of the unique biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race left London at the end of August and has already raced over 16,000 miles after completing four of its 14-race global series of more than 40,000 nautical miles, making it the world’s longest, and toughest, ocean race.

Remarkably, all the crew are amateur, nearly half had never sailed before their extensive pre-race training. Each team is led by a professional skipper. Crew are aged from 18 to their early seventies and around 35 per cent are women.

After 2,088 nautical miles from Albany to Sydney, and long periods of slamming seas due to strong Southern Ocean headwinds, line honours in Race 4: The Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup went to LMAX Exchange.

The team crossed the line at 1901 AEDT on Saturday evening (12 December) and has retaken the top of the overall leader board after securing a maximum 17 points, which consists of twelve points for the win, plus two Ocean Sprint and  three Scoring Gate bonus points (subject to final ratification by race officials).

“The whole team is really happy to have secured a maximum 17 points to reclaim the top of the overall leaderboard,” said French Skipper Olivier Cardin. “We knew what we needed to do and were totally focussed throughout. The team are to be congratulated for a great performance. Whilst it has been the shortest race so far, it certainly provided some of the most challenging conditions we’ve faced since leaving London.”

LMAX Exchange had a 35 nautical mile lead on a chasing pack of three yachts fighting it out for the remaining two podium places. GREAT Britain and Garmin were neck and neck for the last 200 miles, closely followed by Mission Performance which had led in the early stages of the race.

But in the end it was GREAT Britain which overtook Garmin in the closing stages to take second and third respectively finishing at 0138 AEDT and 0339 AEDT with Mission Performance having to settle for fourth place, crossing the line in Sydney Harbour off Rushcutters Bay at 0517 AEDT Sunday morning (13 December).

Australian crew member Ross Ham, 58 from Brisbane, is racing round the world again, this time on board Garmin, having completed the Clipper 2013-14 Race. He is the first double circumnavigator in the history of the Clipper Race and was reunited with his wife Kathy after five months apart upon his arrival.

Ross reflected: “I am loving the race even more this time, and am contemplating a third circumnavigation in 2017/18 after this latest Bass Strait crossing. It was a great race, and to have the top four boats racing so closely together was exactly what I signed up for. I helmed during some very exhilarating conditions, and had some record-breaking speeds. It is a challenge and the race ticks all the boxes for me.

“My wife has surprised me by turning up in Sydney, and I am looking forward to spending some time with my family before more excitement in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race,” Ross added.

Seven more yachts are due in today (Sunday 13 December), including Da Nang – Viet Nam with the race’s first female Australian Skipper at the helm: Wendy Tuck (58) is a veteran of eight Sydney-Hobarts and is looking forward to sailing into her home port. However, the first three yachts around 7am will be US entry Visit Seattle, Chinese team Qingdao and Unicef.

The distinctive blue livery of Unicef is expected to stand out in Sydney Harbour. The Clipper Race named Unicef as its official charity and gifted a branded yacht to mark the event’s tenth edition to promote the organisation’s global work with children, particularly across the multiple humanitarian emergencies that have put children in danger throughout 2015.

Alongside the branded yacht crew all twelve teams have chosen to raise funds for Unicef’s work to build a safer world for children. To date crew members have raised more than $280,000 AUD for children’s health, education and protection programs against a target in excess of $600,000 AUD.

Unicef Australia Fundraising Director Michael Newsome said Unicef was delighted to welcome the Clipper Race and the international contingent of crew members to Sydney. “We are extremely excited to see the race make it to Sydney and grateful for the incredible support shown to Unicef by the Clipper Race and crew,” he said.

The Australia Leg consists of three races; the first started in Albany, WA to Sydney, NSW on 1 December following races from London, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. The second will be the famous blue water classic RSHYR on Boxing Day 26 December. Third and finally on 2 January the fleet heads to Airlie Beach, gateway to the picturesque Whitsundays.

The teams will have to cross the infamous Bass Strait a total of three times. After Australia the race heads for Da Nang - Vietnam, Qingdao - China, Seattle, Panama, New York and back to Europe, finishing in London on 30 July 2016.

The remaining two teams ClipperTelemed+ and PSP Logistics are due to arrive in Sydney Monday, 14 December.

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