by Jeni Bone
The world’s longest yacht race will make a stopover on the Gold Coast, spending time (and much needed money) on its shores, as well as showcasing the city to the crews and the world via the media onboard.
Gold Coast Australia
40,000 miles of ocean racing and around 450 people facing the challenge of a lifetime. The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race has begun, setting off from Southampton on the south coast of the UK, 31 July 2011. The route will take the crews of the 10, identical 68-foot yachts via Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qingdao in China, California, Panama, New York, Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Netherlands before returning in July 2012 to the south coast of England – a full circumnavigation of the globe.
Crew members come from all walks of life, all backgrounds and from all corners of the globe. It’s the only race in the world where the organisers supply the fleet of ten identical, 68-foot, stripped down racing yachts – each sponsored by a city, a region or a country – and man them with 10 fully trained skippers, employed to lead the crews safely around the planet.
One of the boats, Gold Coast Australia is the only Queensland entry and the Gold Coast stopover is a major coup for our city.
It’s a big one, in racing and competition terms, but also in the scope of its appeal. It’s the only race in the world where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, students work alongside bankers, nurses work with vets and doctors team up with rugby players.
Gold Coast Australia crew
The race is 40,000 miles and will take 11 months to complete the circumnavigation. The race is divided in to a series of eight legs and crews can decide to race one of them, select a combination of legs or sign up to become a round the world crew member and complete the full circumnavigation. There are 15 individual races in total and, just like in Formula 1, points are awarded at the end of each race, building towards a championship total. It means that you can put a poor result behind you and head to the start of the next race with the possibility of gaining maximum points as you lead the field in.
The race route is firmly in place but details regarding many of the destination ports are still under negotiation. The adventure will start from the UK in August 2011 and cross the Atlantic Ocean, the South Atlantic, the Southern Ocean, the Java and South China Seas plus the mighty Pacific. It will deliver two of the three great capes – Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin – and visit New Zealand for the first time in Clipper’s history.
With all boats identical and budgets equal, no one has a head start. It’s the ultimate long distance match race and the winners are those who keep their focus the longest. It’s a unique opportunity to experience a rare freedom and only the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race makes it possible.
Gold Coast Australia set off
Gold Coast Australia Crew Profile
Gold Coast Australia skipper is Richard Hewson, 31, from Hobart, Tasmania. Richard has always had a love of sailing and when the race sets off from the UK in August this year he will be on his way to fulfilling a lifetime ambition. 'To race around the world has been a dream since I was a small child and a goal I have been preparing for my entire life. There are few opportunities available where you get given a racing yacht and a crew to compete in one of the most challenging yacht races in the world.
'Not only is the Clipper Race an awesome challenge, but the comradeship and friendships developed in a race like this are amazing. I cannot wait until the gun goes off at the start of the first leg in August,' explains Richard.
Under Richard’s professional guidance will be a crew who come from all walks of life, from train drivers to IT specialists, nurses to chief executives, many of whom had never sailed before applying to take part. To date more than 40 different nationalities are represented by Clipper crew and Clipper 11-12 will see 28 Australians compete in the challenging eleven month race.
Total Crew: 48
Average Age: 47
Nationalities Represented: 6
More at www.clipperroundtheworld.com