Back in 1995 Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail singlehanded non-stop around the globe founded the Clipper Round the World Race to give amateur sailors the opportunity to race around the world. Twenty years after the first edition the race is as strong as ever with a fleet of 12 competing in the 2015/ 2016 competition.
With 50 Australian crew members spread throughout the fleet, 4 stop’s in Australian ports and the fleets participation the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart the Clipper Race has strong connections with Australia. Of particular note is Australian female skipper Wendy Tuck, leading the crew on Danang Vietnam and winner of the Clipper division of the 2015 Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
But while the sailors face gales, becalming’s and relentless competition at sea, back on shore the support team and ports hosting the fleet face the logistical challenges of welcoming over 700 sailors into 16 foreign ports, repairing any damage to boats and restarting the race, sometimes only a few days after the boat arrived.
In just under a week the yachts will start arriving at their final Australian port, Abell Point, Airlie Beach for the first time in the races 19 year history. With the boats in port for less than a week any damage will need to be repaired quickly before the boats head back to sea for the 6300 nautical mile leg 5 to Da Nang in Vietnam. Although the race support team bring maintenance crew and spare equipment to each port Abell Point's Luke McCaul says “the thriving local marine industry are waiting in anticipation for the Clipper Fleet and will be on hand ready to assist if needed”.
Race founder Sir Robin is excited to see the race visit Whitsundays, saying that “As well as being a stunning location for our crew members and partners, it is also an excellent international platform for the Whitsundays to promote itself and its strengths to our global race community.”
While the fleet is in town visitors are able to join the welcome celebrations, take a close up look at the fleet and watch the start of the next race leg.
Details and the full schedule can be found on the Abell Point Marina website.