The atmosphere was highly charged today, as the ten strong fleet of racing yachts taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race started its last ocean crossing. The teams left Nova Scotia, Canada this afternoon (GMT) destined for Derry-Londonderry, where a ten day homecoming festival has been organised to celebrate the fleet’s stopover in Northern Ireland.
Richard Hewson, the Tasmanian skipper of Australian entry Gold Coast Australia, which is currently in first place, has set his sights on breaking the record for the most consecutive wins, “We’re going to be sailing upwind which will be tough on the crew. However, we have to be persistent and sail hard if we want to be successful and stand on that podium.
“Tactically we plan to organise our strategy around the great circle route in the Atlantic. The weather systems at the moment are unique; so rather than have a slow ride right across to Derry-Londonderry, as in previous races,we’re going to have to do everything we can to win again.”
In the 2,350-mile Atlantic crossing to Derry-Londonderry, a Scoring Gate has been added to the race route. This is not a compulsory gate, but the first three yachts racing through it will be awarded three, two and one points respectively. The teams will also be given the chance to take part in an 120 mile (approximately) Ocean Sprint, where the fastest team to sail between the lines of longitude 27 degrees west and 24 degrees west, will be awarded one additional point.
Round the world crew member John Harkin, from Derry-Londonderry describes his excitement at returning home after ten months at sea. His return home is made even more poignant by the fact that John’s daughter, Jodie who joined the Derry-Londonderry entry in New York, will be sailing with him back into their hometown together, “I’m feeling really positive about Race 13, back to Derry-Londonderry. Of course I have concerns about sailing the Atlantic but I’ve sailed around the world now, so I’ve seen and been in the thick of some pretty bad conditions. In this race, we will have to do whatever and go wherever we need to in order to bring ourselves up and I’m prepared for anything that the North Atlantic is going to throw at us.
“There is so much anticipation back home, and I know everyone is routing for us to do well. We have to be up there at the top of the leader board when we arrive in Derry-Londonderry.”
With only three races to go the current overall leader board is close, with just two points now separating second place Visit Finland and De Lage Landen which slipped into third place after Race 12 into Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Skipper of Singapore, Ben Bowley currently lies in fourth place just eleven points off a podium place in the world’s longest ocean race. Any extra points could mean the difference in winning a coveted podium position, “We are really looking hard at the positions on the leader board. Welcome to Yorkshire had an excellent result into Halifax and is now just six points behind us on the leader board.
“Not only do we need to make sure we have a good race, but we also need to focus on getting that podium position. We need to be on the podium for the next three races and if we can do that, we stand every chance of being on the podium in Southampton. We need to establish a decent lead from the start. With the fleet so tight in the middle of the table you need to make sure you’re one step ahead of everyone else.”
The winner of Race 13 into Derry-Londonderry will also be awarded the Hill Dickinson Cup, presented by the Clipper Race's official legal services partner. Tony Allen, the firm's Partner in Marine said, “Hill Dickinson is honoured to be right behind the Clipper Race crews, supporting them in this challenging stage of the Clipper Race."
The fleet is expected to arrive in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland between 29 June and 1 July, where the UK City of Culture for 2013 will host a Clipper Race homecoming festival on behalf of the fleet from 29 June - 8 July.
- Clipper Race Media
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