Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race seventh race, from the Gold Coast to Singapore, has drawn to an early conclusion. Gold Coast Australia has claimed victory after the Race Committee made the decision to shorten the course.
Extremely light winds which would have prevented the race management team from setting a fair course for the second stage of race seven, combined with an increased threat of piracy in the Singapore Straits in the light conditions over the Chinese New Year, led to the tough decision. The positions of the yachts at the Celebes Sea Gate, which marked the end of the first phase of the race from Australia, will be taken as the final standings for race seven.
Race Director, Joff Bailey, told the teams at 0700 UTC today, 'Race seven to Celebes Sea Gate from the Gold Coast was certainly long enough at 3,200nm to qualify as a serious race. It was run fairly, you all had chances to make gains and losses and see your tactics play out and I believe it was one of the most interesting races we have run.'
During the race the lead changed hands a number of times as the ten internationally-backed yachts fought for supremacy with Geraldton Western Australia, Qingdao and Derry-Londonderry all taking their turn to lead the fleet. Gold Coast Australia’s tactic of heading much further north than the other nine teams before hooking in to a favourable current allowed them to swoop into the lead in the final miles before the Celebes Sea Gate, which has now become the race seven finish line.
They beat Derry-Londonderry into second place by just an hour and 19 minutes, and Geraldton Western Australia claimed third place three hours and 15 minutes behind the Northern Ireland entry. Both teams have recorded their best results of the campaign.
Reacting to news of his team’s sixth victory of the Clipper 11-12 Race, Tasmanian yachtsman, Richard Hewson said, 'Although the race from Gold Coast to Singapore was cut ‘short’ I believe it was one of the most mentally challenging and frustrating races to date where any number of tactical decisions could have won the race for any of the ten yachts in the fleet. Crewmembers on Gold Coast Australia are ecstatic about their victory and we will celebrate in style on arrival in Singapore.
'I would like to thank the other yachts in the race, particularly Derry-Londonderry and Geraldton Western Australia who sailed extremely well and made the race very close and exciting.'
Geraldton Western Australia’s South African-born skipper, Juan Coetzer, is equally thrilled with his team’s performance.
'What a race! We stormed across the start line and dominated the first few days. I had decided to push the crew and the boat to the limit and beyond. They responded by giving it their all and working beyond the call of duty when needed. I sailed this race using my gut instinct: when something did not feel right we altered course accordingly and we reaped the rewards. The result of our hard work has earned us a podium position. We have done our sponsors as well as our family and friends proud, not forgetting our supporters following our every move,' he commented.
It was a closely fought race, with both Qingdao and Singapore, who were aiming to be on the podium when the fleet arrives in Marina at Keppel Bay, both in contention for one of the top three places. They finished fourth and fifth respectively; Qingdao’s result is a campaign-best result for the Chinese team.
Completing the finish order, De Lage Landen finished sixth, followed by New York, Visit Finland, Welcome to Yorkshire and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
The result consolidates Gold Coast Australia’s dominance of the competition and the team is now 20 points ahead of closest rivals, Visit Finland. Dutch entry De Lage Landen remains in third place overall.
The fleet will now proceed to Batam, Indonesia, where they will muster ahead of a spectacular ceremonial arrival in Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore on Saturday 28 January.
Ms Wang Look Fung, Director, Group Corporate Affairs at Keppel Corporation, Singapore’s Team Sponsor and Host Port Sponsor for the Singapore stopover, said, 'Many Keppelites and Singaporeans are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Clipper Race fleet into Marina at Keppel Bay. The international event will certainly lend colour and vibrancy to Keppel Bay’s appeal as a waterfront lifestyle hub with our luxurious homes, a marina playground, and a host of other waterfront amenities including Singapore’s only RYA-accredited Keppel Bay Sailing Academy.' Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website