PUBLISHED 31 MAY 2012 15:30
Gold medal for
Australian entry, Gold Coast Australia wins hard fought Clipper race.
Gold Coast Australia has won Race 11 in the Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race. The closest stage so far took the field from Panama to New York.
Tasmanian Richard Hewson, skipper of the Australian entered boat, made several tactical decisions that initially seemed shaky. The boat that came second, Visit Finland, had their nose in front for much of the race.
Hewson recalls, “Visit Finland took a different route to us. We went more offshore to try and get more of the wind from Gulf Stream, while Visit Finland took a route inshore and ended up getting some great current going up the shore, which I wasn’t aware of. In one report we received I saw they had nine miles on us, while we were experiencing calm weather with little wind. I thought that’s it, they’ve beaten us.”
But the Aussies managed to get ahead when it counted, thanks to a bit of luck and a lot of hard work. Crew member Lisa Blair found the winds inconsistent, forcing constant sail changing. “We had a lots of variable winds including very, very light winds through the Windward Passage, then ended up having 30 knots plus sailing downwind putting the heavyweight spinnaker up.
”The Australian entry crossed the finish line at 1:26am local time on May 27, followed by Visit Finland just 6 hours behind, with the Dutch entry De Lage Landen coming in third place, crossing the line just an hour behind Visit Finland.
The gruelling 3,300 kilometre race took Gold Coast Australia 13 days to complete. Skipper Hewson commended his crew, most of whom aren’t professional sailors, for their hard work. “The crew fought really hard the whole way from Panama to New York. The fleet were so close it was phenomenal. It was a hard race but very enjoyable.”
Another Australian entry, Geraldton Western Australia, managed to take fourth place – finishing just over an hour later than De Lage Landen, who snagged third spot.
Gold Coast Australia now holds a commanding overall lead, sitting pretty at the top of the table on 113 points, followed by De Lage Landen and Visit Finland on 81 and 77 respectively. Four stages of the Clipper 11-12 Race remain, which will go to Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry, Den Helder before finishing in Southampton on 22 July.