Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-12 third race started in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and is currently drawing to a close in Cape Town, Africa.
Derry-Londonderry has won the fight for fifth place after an intense battle with Qingdao that went right to the line. As they closed in on the finish in Table Bay after 3,300 miles of racing across the Atlantic, the two boats were matching each other mile for mile with Welcome to Yorkshire and New York hot on their heels. As they crossed the line, just five minutes and eleven seconds separated them.
Mark Light and his team on Derry-Londonderry, representing the UK City of Culture 2013, crossed the finish line with a backdrop of Table Mountain at 0505 local time on Thursday morning (0305UTC) followed by Qingdao at 0510 (0310 UTC). Race three was won by Gold Coast Australia on Tuesday, completing their hat trick of victories so far in Clipper 11-12, with Visit Finland finishing in second place and De Lage Landen in third.
Upon his arrival in the V and A Waterfront, Derry-Londonderry skipper, Mark Light, said, 'It was touch and go – a great finish. Qingdao crossed in front of us and then they had to gybe but we didn’t have to. They crossed probably 200 metres in front of us and we were waiting and waiting for the gybe which didn’t come and all of a sudden we cut inside of them and managed to take them in the last 0.8 of a mile. It was amazing.
'We were disappointed initially not to get fourth but that quickly disappeared because we were massively happy to get fifth place.'
Qingdao arrives in Cape Town at the end of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. - Bruce Sutherland/onEdition
Qingdao’s skipper, Ian Conchie, said, 'It’s been a duel all the way in up until the last six hours when we got ahead of them. In very light airs we found yet another wind hole as we approached Cape Town and then on the final gybe, less than a mile from the finish, the wind shifted on us which meant we could no longer hold the kite and they just sneaked in front of us. We were 50 metres off the beach – it was exhilarating stuff after 3,300 miles.'
By comparison, Singapore managed to secure a relatively comfortable fourth position ahead of the fierce contest for fifth place, with the result set to keep them in the top three overall.
Singapore finished at 0149 local time on Thursday morning (2349UTC, Wednesday 28 September). The team had been in a strong position for most of the race, and managed to see off the competition for fourth place.
Upon arriving in Cape Town, Singapore skipper, Ben Bowley, said, 'It was a pretty tough race. It certainly put the crew, the boat and, to a certain extent myself, through our paces. We had some pretty nasty weather in the early part and some very light weather towards the end of it so there were a lot of challenges.'
The 26-year-old yachtsman, the youngest of the ten skippers, continued, 'We had a few setbacks early in the race; we went out on a bit of a flyer to try to get more breeze which didn’t quite pay off and sent us down the fleet quite a bit but we slowly spent the rest of the leg clawing back up the leader board and we’re very happy with the position we’ve got. Depending on where these next few boats finish it should put us second or third overall, which is a great position to be going into race four with.'
Two days ago his team was becalmed, their instruments reading a speed of 0.0 knots and they could only watch as the yachts behind them closed in on their position.
'Although we hit the wind hole earlier than the other guys by the time it had passed we were in striking distance of Cape Town,' said Ben.
Welcome to Yorkshire arrives in Cape Town at the end of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. - Bruce Sutherland/onEdition
Welcome to Yorkshire’s skipper, Rupert Dean, said, 'It was fantastic to think that after all those miles Welcome to Yorkshire could be dicing it out with four other boats and to miss each other by minutes at the line was just amazing. Everyone was really up for it and they were fighting right to the very end, so it was a good old race.'
Twenty-four-year-old Leonie Sutherland from Leeds will leave Welcome to Yorkshire in Cape Town to return to her job as a paralegal after racing to South Africa from the UK.
She said, 'I’m really gutted to be going but for me Legs one and two were what I wanted and I’ve said before, it’s the mother of all adventures. I’ve done it, I’ve completed it, I’ve tried my hardest, I feel really strong now and I feel like I can go and do anything. It’s what I’d hoped for and it’s awesome.'
Geraldton Western Australia arrives in Cape Town at the end of Race 3 of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. - Bruce Sutherland/onEdition
Geraldton Western Australia finished ninth after closing a huge gap on Derry-Londonderry, Qingdao, Welcome to Yorkshire and New York but the Australian boat ran out of race track before they could overtake them.
The team led by South African Juan Coetzer, finished less than three hours behind fourth placed Singapore, crossing the finish line at 0752 local time (0552 UTC).
Juan, who hails from Pretoria, and has lived and worked in Cape Town, said, 'I’m over the moon and really ecstatic to be here. I’m proud of my crew especially the amount of work they’ve put in over the last 48 hours. We’ve managed to rake in quite a lot of distance. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch the boats right at the end, but I’m overwhelmed to be here.'
Gareth Glover and his team on New York crossed the finish line at 0652 local time (0452 UTC) exactly one hour ahead of Geraldton Western Australia.
Like his fellow competitors, Gareth commented on how close the racing had been. 'After thousands of miles of ocean racing it comes down to minutes on a few boats and a couple of hours for the others so it has been very close racing,' he said.
'Personally I enjoy the tough times, when it gets rough,' remarked Gareth. 'I do enjoy the harsh weather when you’ve got to dig down deep and pull something out of the bag to do a sail change in 40 knots of breeze. Really pulling strength out the depths of your inner core is what I look forward to,' he continued.
Singapore,has finished in fourth place - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. - Bruce Sutherland/onEdition
As the crews arrive in Cape Town they are reflecting on the experience of crossing an ocean under sail. Kwong Chung Kan, 49, a Singaporean bank officer, said, it was a memorable experience to be part of the Keppel-backed team on Singapore.
'The worst moment was when we were going through some pretty heavy waves and storms and you couldn’t even sleep – you hit a wave and you get lifted off the bunk a few inches so you couldn’t sleep for the whole night! That was when I wondered, ‘what am I doing here?’ But when you’re up on deck with good weather and you see the sunrise and sunsets and the days you see the dolphins and the whales, those are the moments that make it all worthwhile,' he said.
Kwong Chung will celebrate his birthday during the stopover in Cape Town and he and the other teams will visit many of the attractions the city has to offer including taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, the beautiful botanic gardens at Kirstenbosch and Cape Point which the teams will see from the ocean as they round the Cape of Good Hope in the next race to Geraldton in Western Australia.
The only boat still on the course is Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Gordon Reid and his team are expected to arrive in Cape Town to a warm welcome tomorrow
'Since leaving Rio we have seen very few ships but today a cargo ship bound for Singapore passed within 300 metres just off our port beam. I think he came for a look and we sailed on a fairly parallel course and for a while it looked like we were overtaking him as he was doing a steady 12 knots and we were easily topping out at 18 knots on the surf,' Gordon said.
However, Gordon said he decided to call the captain on the VHF radio to check the vessel was going to pass within a safe distance as their courses appeared to be converging.
'After a wee chat he sped up and passed around 400 meters in front of us and even he was rolling about on the ocean swell despite his size,' Gordon said.
As they close in on Cape Town, the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital team is still enjoying the wildlife. 'The South Atlantic is teeming with wildlife including whales, dolphins and various sea birds. Yesterday there were loads of huge albatross surfing the updrafts on the massive ocean swell. They look so graceful, hardy moving their wings at all, just gliding along nonchalantly,' Gordon said.
'We also had a pod of around eight dolphins come for a visit and together shared the surf for about 45 minutes before they bid us farewell,' he added.
Gordon said that he and his team were aware that sailing around the world was a mental challenge in addition to a physical one. 'We’re embracing the challenges with enthusiasm and positive thoughts and we'll soon be drinking a cold beer in Cape Town!' he said.
Berths are now available for Clipper 13-14, which will see the introduction of a brand new fleet of twelve 70-foot yachts. The Clipper Race runs every two years and is the only event in the world where people from all walks of life can take on the challenge of a lifetime and race around the globe on stripped-down ocean racing yachts.
Anyone in Cape Town interested in signing up to take part can look around one of the current fleet this weekend. Between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday the public will be able to get on board one of the yachts at the V and A Waterfront to see what conditions are like on board. Positions at 1300 UTC, Thursday 29 September Boat - DTF*
1 Gold Coast Australia - Finished at 10:56 UTC 27/09
2 Visit Finland - Finished at 18:22 UTC 27/09
3 De Lage Landen - Finished at 21:30 UTC 27/09
4 Singapore - Finished 23:49 UTC 28/09
5 Derry-Londonderry - Finished 03:05 UTC 29/09
6 Qingdao - Finished 03:10 UTC 29/09
7 Welcome to Yorkshire - Finished 03:49 UTC 29/09
8 New York - Finished 04:52 UTC 29/09
9 Geraldton Western Australia - Finished 05:52 UTC 29/09
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 168nm (+168nm)
*DTF = Distance to Finish. Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here
. Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website