Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-2012 second race in leg one, from Madeira to Rio De Janeiro, has been won by Gold Coast Australia, who crossed the finish line in Guanabara Bay today at 0407 local time (0707 UTC) after 19 days racing across the Atlantic Ocean
In a highly tactical contest between the teams racing the ten 68-foot yachts, the crew of Gold Coast Australia emerged victorious. The pivotal moment in their first transatlantic race was their decision to take a route directly through the middle of the Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Africa, utilising the funnel-like effect of the islands on the wind to catapult them through the centre of the archipelago and out the other side into a position of strength.
Third to the Scoring Gate behind Singapore and Welcome to Yorkshire respectively, Gold Coast Australia has been locked in a three-way contest with the British and Asian entries for the last 3,000 miles, gaining the ascendency as Singapore suffered steering failure. The Australian team capitalised on their position, stretching their lead and were first to cross the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere, beating the rest of the fleet to the beginning of the Ocean Sprint, where they were the fastest team to cover the distance between five and ten degrees south and earned a bonus point for doing so.
Paying tribute to his crew, who will pick up their second yellow winners’ pennant at the race two prize-giving ceremony in Rio de Janeiro next week, skipper, Richard Hewson, said, 'I’m very proud, the crew have performed really well, they’ve been fantastic. We’ve played all our tactics as we said we would.'
The Tasmania-based yachtsman continues, 'There were a few parts of the course where we just went from one side to the other just trying to cover the rest of the fleet in the first half of the race but we timed crossing the Doldrums really perfectly – only had about four hours of the Doldrums experience – and then we were off again. We’ve had some brilliant downwind sailing and then coming in here this morning, it was just phenomenal. We got to enjoy it for a bit longer than we were expecting as the wind died just outside the harbour but to be here now…words can’t describe it. I can’t wait to explore Rio and I actually can’t wait to start the next race! Bring it on!'
Clipper 11-12 is ‘raced by people like you’, people from all walks of life who put their everyday lives on hold to sign up to the challenge of a lifetime. More than 40 per cent of them have never sailed before they begin their rigorous pre-race training, between them they have more than 250 professions and more than 40 nationalities are represented by those taking part in the race.
For Gold Coast Australia’s Brazilian crew member, Annelise Nelson, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, winning this race has even more resonance. The management consultant now lives and works in London but still calls Rio home.
Against the backdrop of the iconic landmarks of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado, topped by the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer, round the world crew member Annelise said, 'It’s been really emotional sailing in here. I was helming as we crossed the finish line and it was fabulous to see all the familiar sights. It’s been a great race and to come in first was just perfect.'
The result means Gold Coast Australia will consolidate their overall lead in the race, having scored two wins in the first two stages and two bonus points: one at the Scoring Gate and one for the Ocean Sprint. There are fifteen races in total in Clipper 11-12 with a Formula 1-style scoring system. The yellow, red and blue pennants for first second and third places in each of the races are highly prized by the people taking part and the teams proudly fly the pennants in each of the ports of call.
Welcome to Yorkshire and Singapore are expected to arrive later today, with the remainder of the ten internationally-sponsored teams due in Marina da Gloria by 5 September. The crews will spend time preparing the yachts for the next race, across the South Atlantic to South Africa, as well as enjoying some well-earned downtime exploring the delights of the Brazilian city, including Copacobana and Ipanema beaches, the historic central city and the cauldron of the Maracaña Stadium where the people of Rio indulge their passion for Brazil’s national game, football.
Race three from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town starts on Saturday 10 September at 1400 local time (1700UTC). Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website