Spirit of Australia after maximum points from Clipper leg to Geraldton

Spirit of Australia , one of the ten yachts competing in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race, has gained maximum points at the Leg 3 scoring gate, crossing at 1742GMT yesterday evening ahead of their closest rivals, Team Finland . The three points awarded brings the team one step closer to achieving maximum points in the Southern Ocean Leg from Cape Town to Geraldton, Western Australia and closer to regaining the top spot on the overall leader board.

“Three points, you little ripper!” exclaimed Brisbane based skipper, Brendan Hall. “Getting through that gate was a fairly nail biting affair, we thought it would come down to minutes of difference but in the end we crossed more than an hour ahead of Team Finland, a great psychological boost to the crew.”

Despite losing out to the Australian entry, Team Finland 's skipper Eero Lehtinen was quick to praise Brendan and his crew, saying, “Spirit of Australia covered their position smartly and deserve their second gate victory in the race. Well done Boxing Kangaroos!”

“The excitement was really building as we neared the line, but so was the pressure,” explains Australian crew member Kelvin Cope, a 35-year-old electrical engineer from Victoria . “It was great to cross it at speed – not like the frustrating light winds of the Leg 1 gate. And now we're on the charge to Oz, I can't wait to get home. First one on shore gets the beers in. Beautiful!”

With just under 3,000 nautical miles to go until the finish line at Gerldton-Greenough, the Australian team still have a fight on their hands if they are to secure a win into their home port. For a team to achieve a home port victory is a rare event in the thirteen year history of the biennial Clipper Race and has only been done on two previous occasions, once in Clipper 05-06 by Canadian entry, Victoria , and again in Clipper 07-08 by New York .

A win into WA would certainly be the icing on the cake for Michael Hanssen, a 36-year-old Managing Director from Perth . “Three points in the bag, Leg 3 leaders, and a wild ride in the Southern Ocean. The only thing that can beat this is a win into our home port in front of friends and family,” he says.

The Clipper Race is the only round the world yacht race for people from all walks of life and 55-year-old crew member Janet Hoskings, a senior technical assistant from Fremantle, first discovered she could take part when she was fortunate enough to lead the fleet out of Fremantle on board HMS Leeuwin in the Clipper 05-06 Race. Joining Spirit of Australia for the leg from Cape Town to Geraldton, Janet is understandably pleased with their Leg 3 gate result.

“We were working so hard to get to the gate first but then got stuck in light winds while the fleet caught up,” says Janet. “It felt like running blindfolded in mud. But the wind picked up for a late burst to take us over the line and now it's the home run. Put the kettle on, love, we're coming home in style!”

The fleet is expected to arrive in Geraldton between 14 and 18 December and the race will restart on 3 January 2010 when the fleet will head north to
Singapore .

During the three week stopover a number of recruitment events are being held across
Australia for those interested in taking part in the next edition of the race, Clipper 11-12

Pantaenius Sailing
M.O.S.S Australia
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey
West System Afloat
Pantaenius Sailing
M.O.S.S Australia
Jeanneau ?Yachts
West System 3