Story by Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club
The 1pm gun from Newcastle’s Fort Scratchely was a fitting farewell signal to over 200 sailors on eleven identical yachts as they set off on their sprint to the Whitsundays in the second race of the Australian leg in the Clipper Around the World Race.
The Clipper Around the World Race is an eleven-month circumnavigation with non-professional sailors across 55 nationalities represented in the fleet.
Planning for the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club and the City of Newcastle to host a stopover for the 2023-2024 Clipper Around the World Race was triggered by a phone call just eight months ago.
The award-winning Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club had previously expressed an interest with the event organisers in hosting a stopover, and then the clubs CEO, Paul O’Rourke, received a phone call that started a process cementing Newcastle’s status as an international sailing destination.
“The initial phone call showed that we had a lot of common ground with Clipper Ventures who organise the Round the World Race. A passion for sailing, a connection with community, and an understanding of what makes such an international event successful for everyone” O’Rourke said. “Our management team, staff, members, and a host of enthusiastic volunteers stepped up to not just co-ordinate the sailing and administration side, but tourist activities as well. Working with City of Newcastle we had the sailors going surfing, outrigger canoeing, swimming, on winery tours, and more.”
The Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said that the city had provided the perfect backdrop for one of the world’s highest profile sailing events during the 10-day stopover of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which injected almost half a million dollars into the local economy.
“Utilising our beautiful harbour, and with support from City of Newcastle and the hospitality of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, we warmly welcomed more than 200 competitors from 55 countries across the globe to our shores following the arrival of the first vessel early on January 2,” Cr Nelmes said.
“Since then the race crews, support staff, their families and partners have enjoyed all our city has to offer, exploring the Wickham/Honeysuckle precinct, experiencing Newcastle’s restaurant and café culture and our wonderful local businesses. With almost 200,000 followers on social media, the race is yet another high-profile event helping to promote Newcastle to an international audience. We wish the fleet well as it heads to Airlie Beach for the next leg of the race and hope their experiences here will encourage them to return to our city in the future.”
The 950 nautical mile race from Newcastle to Airlie Beach in Queensland is more of a sprint than some of the legs in the circumnavigation and is expected to take six or seven days. Clipper Race Director Mark Light said that “this will be a fast and furious race with little chance to make up ground in the event of a poor tactical choice or sailing evolution that may not have gone completely to plan.”
Light was very pleased with the race start which required co-ordination with multiple organisations. “It really was a fantastic start in Newcastle Harbour. The start served up some beautiful conditions of an easterly breeze around 10 knots, making for close upwind racing on the start line, an exciting show for the crowds lining the foreshore, and spectating on the water.”
The first yacht to cross the line just off Newcastle’s Queens Wharf was PSP Logistics but unfortunately they had ‘jumped the gun’ and so incurred a two hour penalty. UNICEF was the first yacht with a clean start, closely followed by Qingdao, Zhuhai and Our Isles and Oceans.
About the Clipper Round the World Race
The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other. With no previous sailing experience necessary, before signing up for the intensive training programme, it’s a record-breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht.
The brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, the first Clipper Race took place in 1996. Since then, almost 6,000 Race Crew from all walks of life and more than 60 nations have trained and raced in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race; the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of identical racing yachts (eleven), each with a fully qualified skipper and first mate to safely guide the crew.
About Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club
The Club was incorporated on the 19th of April, 1994, and since then, has grown to be a nationally recognised name in both sailing and sailing development. NCYC has gone through various phases of development, beginning with the completion of four marina arms, boatyard, and commercial centre. The second phase of development saw the completion of two more marina arms, and the completion of the Clubhouse in 2008. In 2021, the Club completed stage three, doubling the capacity of its Clubhouse.
As far as Australian yacht clubs go, NCYC’s history is relatively short, yet still boasts as one of the newest yacht clubs in Australia, and certainly the newest with significant club and marina assets.
Story – Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club
Pics credit – Clipper Around the World Race