The City of Newcastle is stop number six for the 2023-2024 Clipper Around the World Race.
Newcastle locals turned out in force to greet over 200 sailors as they arrived after spending Christmas and New Year at sea. Racing in eleven identical yachts, the sailors are competing in Leg 4 of the 2023-2024 Clipper Around the World Race, and set sail from the West Australian port of Fremantle on the 19th December 2023 bound for the East Coast of Australia.
First held in 1996, the Clipper Around the World Race is an international yacht racing event that brings together non-professional sailors from all over the world to circumnavigate the globe. After undertaking rigorous training, the competitors set off on the 40,000 nautical mile (74,080km) race which is split into eight legs, visiting fourteen ports on six different continents.
The award-winning Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club is the host for a stopover on leg 4, the Australian Coast to Coast leg which takes in Fremantle (WA), Newcastle (NSW), and Airlie Beach (QLD) before heading to China. Leaving Fremantle, the fleet set off on a 2900 nautical mile journey rounding the southern tip of Tasmania, before a tactical battle up the coast including Christmas and New Year wrapped in wet weather gear as the summer storms made life interesting.
Over 54 nationalities are represented in the fleet with 13 Australians amongst them, and they were all very pleased to reach Newcastle.
Laura Ayres, Managing Director of Clipper Ventures, is based in Gosport in the UK but was onsite in Newcastle to greet the sailors as they arrived. “Newcastle is ideal as a stopover port for the race. A great midway point between Fremantle and the Whitsundays, and excellent facilities” she said. “We have received lots of community support, and a level of professional backup that makes the city an ideal hub for ocean racing.”
George Coldham, a 29-year-old software consultant from the Northwest of England, is a competitor doing the full circumnavigation on the yacht UNICEF. “I live two miles from the wettest town in England so somehow spending 11 months on a boat seems almost normal” he said laughing.
Coldham is looking forward to having some time to relax. “Stopovers in places like Newcastle in summer make it worthwhile though. Everyone at the club has been very welcoming and helpful with information about local activities. We have around three days of boat maintenance, but then our time is our own. I have already been in touch with the local rowing and swimming clubs, and then I’m off for a trail run at Blackbutt Reserve.”
Local Newcastle sailor Bronwen Crosby will be taking it all in as she will be joining the Zhuhai entry for the Whitsundays to Vietnam-China leg. Bronwen learnt to sail at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club’s sail training academy and inspired by Lisa Blair, another Australian sailor who has competed in the event, set her sights on the offshore adventure. “After reading Lisa’s book telling her story of becoming the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica, I made up my mind to join the Clipper Race. I can’t wait to get onboard!”
Declan Clausen, Deputy Lord Mayor City of Newcastle, was an honoured guest at the celebration to congratulate the placegetters, presenting them with their pennants and welcoming all the sailors of the Clipper Around the World Race to the city.
The Deputy Lord Mayor also praised the organisation that was needed to be the host city saying that he “wanted to acknowledge the amazing partnership that has been formed between the City of Newcastle and the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.”
Congratulating the competitors and the Clipper Around the World Race organisers, the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club Commodore Barry Kelly said at the celebration “Few people can talk about sailing around the world. Something drove you to the sport of sailing. There is nothing like it.”
The full results of the Newcastle leg:
34:27:23 CV31 Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
43:51:00 CV20 Dare To Lead
55:23:42 CV22 Bekezela
59:45:13 CV28 UNICEF
60:42:36 CV25 Zhuhai
72:24:51 CV27 Qingdao
72:40:18 CV23 Perseverance
74:04:47 CV21 Our Isles and Oceans
79:03:50 CV29 PSP Logistics
85:31:32 CV26 Yacht Club Punta del Este
86:06:18 CV30 Washington, DC
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.