Clipper Race: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam first into Whitsundays

After 19 tough days at sea racing around the coast of Australia the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam team, skippered by Josh Stickland, has secured line honours in the fifth race of the global circumnavigation, crossing the finish line in the Whitsundays at 09:23:49 UTC.

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam crewed by 16 near novice sailors, took the lead on Christmas Eve and had held on since.

On arrival, skipper Josh Stickland said: “It’s been a long old race this one. At the start we had a two-day beat into 20-25 knots, then a lovely low pressure system zoomed us down to the bottom of Tassie, where we were met with wind hole after wind hole.

“At the end we enjoyed the trades (bar the direction). It’s been a real test for me personally. I was finding decisions to be very high stake and fortunately most have paid off!”

The Whitsundays, Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, has seen thrilling competition with crew battling a full variety of conditions on the 3,415 nautical mile race.

Teams have experienced the rolling swells, infamous huge waves and freezing temperatures of the Southern Ocean to the upwind beat, rising temperatures and variable weather systems heading north from Tasmania.

The leaderboard has consistently shifted as different tactics have played out and the East Australian Current played its part in making this one of the most strategic races of the circumnavigation to date.

In praise of his crew, skipper Josh added: “Wherever we are placed, the crew can stand tall. They have all given a good account of themselves.”

Despite claiming line honours, the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam team will have a nail-biting wait over the next two days to find out its placing.

Race 5 is being run on elapsed time, following three teams; Punta del Este, Visit Sanya, China and Unicef departing Fremantle exactly 48h hours after the first eight.

If 48 hours passes, and these teams are still racing then Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam’s first race victory in the 2019-20 edition will be confirmed. All race points will be critical as the team currently sits in second place on the overall leaderboard.

John Broomfield from Noosa, Queensland, enthused on arrival: “It’s pretty good to sail around my home country. Coming into Fremantle was awesome after the Southern Ocean, but coming up into Queensland was coming home! We came past Noosa and it was pretty special.”

Having never sailed before joining the Clipper Race, Broomfield said, “Going back to August last year I knew nothing, now I am much more confident on the boat. We’ve had two thirds and a second. It feels great to be the first boat in, to us it's a win. We’re stoked.”

The fleet will be berthed in Coral Sea Marina Resort, Airlie Beach for the duration of the stopover. Awaiting the crew to explore is the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland. Made up of myriad islands, and located right in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays will be a feast for the senses after a long ocean crossing.

This is the third time the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race route has stopped in the Whitsundays. It marks the return of the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival. Public events will take place throughout the stopover, from the return of the White on Whitehaven, in addition to wine and dine events, crocodile safaris and a Rodeo by the Reef.

Official website:

M.O.S.S Australia
West Systems
Jeanneau JY60
West Systems