19 January 2010
The pontoon at Nongsa Point Marina in Batam, Indonesia, rang to the sound of tears, laughter and three cheers for the crews as Team Finland arrived in port at the end of Race 5 this afternoon, with seven members of the Cork crew on board to be reunited with those who had arrived on California on Sunday.
Loud applause broke out as Team Finland skipper, Rob McInally, brought the 68-foot yacht alongside and the waiting crews cheered the team’s arrival. They were the first of the Clipper yachts to reach the scene shortly after Cork ran aground and Southampton-based Rob coordinated the recovery operation.
« It was very dark, the winds were strong and squally. Once everyone was on board, spending the night there for the Cork crew in particular was very tough as was going back to it the following day to see it again. I actually stood off a bit further than Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Qingdao because I didn’t want them to spend too much time as they were, looking at Cork. It wasn’t a pretty sight at all. »
There was great relief amongst the crew to be back on land and, in particular, to be reunited with their Cork team mates and friends from the other crews. Despite the emotional arrival they did not forget to congratulate Cape Breton Island for their achievement in taking line honours with three cheers. Cork did the same for Team Finland and the loudest cheer of all was reserved for the Irish team.
With 25 people on board for the last few days, Rob says, « It’s been fairly tough – it’s been so hot and obviously there’s been a lot on the minds of the guys from Cork but they’ve been really good – they’ve been good fun. We’ve got them involved in the sailing because I think it’s very important to get them involved in the steering and on the foredeck doing the headsail changes and they’ve all been grinning and enjoying that, so that’s good.
« I can’t believe the amount of food we’ve gone through and the amount of tea we’ve drunk in the last few days! It’s been an incredible experience just watching everybody work together as a team. It’s been very different culturally – they are very much Irish and very good humoured so it’s been a great time.
« It feels very good to be here. The moment the boat stopped my shoulders just started to relax. It’s a beautiful place and we’re all going to have some great fun and some chill out time before moving on to the next adventure. »
Rob took over as skipper of Team Finland in Geraldton and it is clear he and the crew have already settled into a cohesive unit – they treated him to a good natured dunking in the pool as soon as they arrived at Nongsa Point Resort after crossing the finish line at 1309 local time (0609 GMT).
As well as the Cork crew, on board Team Finland are bags of kit recovered from the boat, all of which will need to be dried out. The Race Office, with the help of Nongsa Point Resort, has been making arrangements for space to sort, clean and dry.
Race 5, from Geraldton, Western Australia, to Singapore began on 3 January and the course has delivered some of the most challenging conditions to date for the crews, all of whom have put their normal lives on hold to take part in the Clipper Race, whether for a single leg or for the whole of the ten-month, 35,000-mile race.
As a number of teams suspended racing during the incident the final results will be subject to ratification once all the skippers’ declarations have been received by the Race Committee before being confirmed. California, Qingdao and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital were also involved in the operation, as well as Uniquely Singapore and Hull & Humber, who stood by to offer assistance if required.
Qingdao, with Cork skipper, Richie Fearon on board, and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital are expected to arrive in Batam tomorrow to join the rest of the fleet who have gathered ahead of the arrival in Singapore.
The fleet will sail in to Marina at Keppel Bay, owned by Uniquely Singapore team sponsor, Keppel Corporation, at 10am on Saturday 23 January. Guest of honour at the colourful ceremony will be Singapore’s Senior Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, who named Uniquely Singapore when she was launched ahead of the Clipper 05-06 Race.
« The international following and goodwill that the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race continues to generate will help promote Singapore as Asia’s destination to live, work and play. Keppel is happy to contribute to the vibrancy of this southern waterfront with such international events at the Marina at Keppel Bay on Keppel Island, » said Ms Wang Look Fung, General Manager of Group Corporate Communications, Keppel Corporation Limited.
Mr Rostam Umar, Executive Director of Communications and Human Resources and Organisational Development at Singapore Tourism Board, Uniquely Singapore‘s team partner, said, « We welcome the crew members of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to Singapore. We see the race as a platform to showcase Singapore as a destination for international sporting events and where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy many exciting leisure experiences. Events such as Clipper Round the World Yacht Race strengthen Singapore’s image as one of Asia’s leading entertainment capitals with a diverse calendar of events year round. »
The Clipper 09-10 Race started from the Humber on the north east coast of England on 13 September 2009 and will return to there on 17 July 2010. It 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 68-foot ocean racing yachts.