In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Henri Lloyd has won its fifth race of the series, the OneDLL Cup, from Derry-Londonderry to Den Helder, The Netherlands, the fleet’s penultimate stopover before the London homecoming.
The win is the team’s ninth podium overall and Canadian skipper Eric Holden and his crew have secured enough points to be unbeatable in the series. They will look forward to being officially crowned champions of the Clipper 2013-14 Race in London on 12 July.
Henri Lloyd finished at 09:41 local time, 07:41 UTC, Old Pulteney, skippered by Dutch man Patrick van der Zijden, finished in second place at 09:57:11 local time, 07:57:11 UTC, and Switzerland finished in third at 10:36 local time, 08:36 UTC.
Henri Lloyd skipper Eric Holden said it had been a very stressful race with wind holes, strong tides, busy shipping lanes and oil rigs to look out for.
'We knew we had a good position but that anything could happen and we could have got stuck in a wind hole at any time, and gales were also a concern.
'We followed our same strategy where we are always in the hunt nipping at the heels of the front pack and then waiting for an opportunity to make our move. You have to be ready.
'First comes relief then elation will come after, but right now its exhaustion and we are happy it’s over,' he added.
Skipper of Old Pulteney, Patrick van der Zijden, said: 'We really wanted to win after the comeback we made in the last race, and to get second place into my home country was extra special.
'We have always been a happy boat, but now we have turned into a winning team. We have massive amounts of enthusiasm. We changed one person on a watch and it has given the extra pressure we needed.'
All the teams are being welcomed to Den Helder in traditional Dutch style with a ‘jenever’ drink, pickled herring and Dutch clogs. A ‘Holland Days’ festival awaits them over the weekend with music, international food stalls, street theatre, a cheese market and the official OneDLL Cup prizegiving on Saturday evening.
The fiercely fought 800 mile race from Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland is the penultimate stage of the 40,000 mile ocean odyssey.
Clipper Race director Justin Taylor said Race 15 had a tough start with light airs, wind holes and a becalmed sea state as it turned into a huge tactical game.
'Congratulations once again to Henri Lloyd who now has an unassailable lead and will be crowned champions in London.
'We have had a very tactical race dominated by light airs and strong tides. Every wind shift has to be seen and played for maximum benefit, amongst a fleet of boats where every tenth of a knot counts.'
Switzerland had a battle to the bitter end with rival Derry~Londonderry~Doire who were in sight for the last 90 miles.
Skipper of Switzerland, Vicky Ellis, added: 'I have been sailing in the North Sea and Scotland for many years and that podium was not going to go to anyone else.
'It was a very stressful last 90 miles with Derry~Londonderry~Doire a mile or two behind and you cannot miss a beat. This morning we saw we were missing a knot of speed and we had 20 minutes to try and retune and trim the boat and thankfully we found it.
'We are exhausted but delighted with our third podium.'
The Clipper Race fleet will leave Den Helder in The Netherlands next Thursday (10 July), arriving in London for the finale on Saturday 12 July after 40,000 miles of ocean racing, visiting 16 ports of call on six continents.
This will complete the world’s longest ocean race, seeing 670 people from all walks of life celebrating their remarkable achievement after nearly twelve months at sea. Clipper Round the World