Monday 12 July
Spirit of Australia has won the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race after finishing fourth in Race 13. Simply finishing this penultimate stage of the 14-race series gave them the single point they needed to secure the title. The crew, who have been focussed on victory since the start of the race in September 2009, will take to the stage to lift the crystal trophy when the fleet returns to the port this Saturday 17 July.
The team’s elated skipper, Brendan Hall, from Brisbane, Queensland, was full of praise for his crew. « Words can’t describe right now, » he said. « It is amazing! We raced so hard, again our result was not our best but to win a round the world yacht race, how many people can say they’ve done that?
« This crew have just worked so well. This has been an amazing leg, just reminiscing about the things we’ve had to do and the times we’ve been through together. It’s been such an experience and these guys are absolute legends. I’ve got the best team, I couldn’t ask for a better one and we’ve done it! The hard work, the sacrifice, the bravery, it’s been extraordinary and I hope credit is heaped on these guys because they deserve it, they really do. »
Last August round the world crew member, Michael Hanssen, from Perth, Western Australia, said as the fleet sailed from Clipper HQ for the race start port of Hull in the north east of England, « Nothing but a win will do. » But for him and some of his team mates, the reality of the victory hasn’t yet sunk in.
« It’s a bit surreal at the moment because it’s not the end of the race, » he explains. « The other watch leader and I have been talking about it – we still don’t feel like we’ve won until we step off in Hull. And I think that’s the key for us; we don’t really want to go out and celebrate too much here but deep down inside you know it’s secure. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve already won and you can still go out and compete the next day and have a damn good race and still want to try to take first place. We almost had it here, ran into a bit of trouble and managed to salvage fourth place out of it which was still pretty good for us. »
Team Finland has taken line honours in Race 13, crossing the finish line at Ijmuiden, Netherlands at 2139 local time (1939 UTC). Hull & Humber finished second and Cape Breton Island third, the final, nail-biting run under heavyweight spinnaker going down to the wire as neither team was willing to give any quarter to their opponents. The big orange boat beat the eagle of Cape Breton to the line by less than two minutes. Both teams could still make the podium in Hull. Spirit of Australia finished a little under five minutes later, followed in quick-fire succession by California, Uniquely Singapore, Qingdao, Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.
Once again the competition was a tight one with the ten yachts racing close to each other as they hoisted their spinnakers to blast along the south coast of England towards their goal at Ijmuiden, Netherlands.
The first nine boats finished within 91 minutes of each other but, as the fleet is racing under IRC handicap ratings to account for the differences in the smaller and heavier Cork yacht, the results for Race 13 will not be announced until all ten boats have crossed the finish line just outside the Ijmuiden Seaport Marina, where they will be based until the start of the final race on Thursday 15 July, and Cork‘s corrected time is calculated. The Irish team is expected in Ijmuiden early on Tuesday 13 July.
Team Finland‘s skipper Rob McInally, said, « We’re thrilled. That was a fantastic race; it had everything in it. We were very pleased to win the ocean crossing but this one was a great race and to get another first and to stay a little bit ahead of Cape Breton Island and Jamaica Lightning Bolt is lining us up quite nicely for our podium finish for the overall race. »
Three of Team Finland‘s Dutch crew members, Hans Sleutjes, Minke Docter and Frank Gerritsen, were thrilled to win the race to their ‘home’ port – some consolation for the disappointment at Sunday’s World Cup Final result.
Working out the mathematical permutations that put Hull & Humber within striking distance of the podium with one race left – Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Cape Breton Island stand in their way – the skipper of the English entry, Justin Taylor, said, « We need them to have a very bad result and we need to win! We’re almost home, I know it’s a little pit stop here but it does feel very close to home now and I think we’re just warming up for our home port win. »
The Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race will finish on Saturday 17 July when all ten yachts will race up the Humber for the homecoming and prize-giving ceremony in Hull Marina. The course of the final race will take them past Bridlington on Friday 16 July and a programme of live entertainment will feature between 4pm and 10pm at the key viewing points of Flamborough Head and Bridlington Spa.