It was a spectacular scene today as thousands of people turned out to watch the winning crew on board Gold Coast Australia arrive back in Southampton, England at the end of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. The Australian entry won the race overall securing a podium in all 15 races around the world.
For the non-professional crew on board all ten ocean racing yachts, the return to Southampton marks the end of a 40,000-mile challenge of a lifetime.
The victorious Clipper Race entry Gold Coast Australia crossed the final finish line of Race 15 at 0407 GMT. Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, led a parade of sail on Southampton Water to welcome back the fleet of ten identical racing yachts after 51 weeks at sea.
Tasmanian skipper Richard Hewson and his crew proudly stood on the helm of the Clipper Race yacht as thousands of people applauded the victorious Australian team. On the emotional return to Ocean Village Marina, Richard described his teams’ enormous achievement,
“It has been an amazing adventure. From the start we’ve had plans to dominate the race and we’ve definitely done that. It’s been very competitive and we’ve been racing against some fantastic teams and have had very tough competition all the way.
“We’ve achieved so much more than we ever set out to, won so many races and podiums, but to stand on the stage as overall winners at Race Finish is unbelievable. The fantastic crew of Gold Coast Australia, amazing support from our sponsor and followers have all been part of making this happen,” said Richard Hewson before accepting the winning trophy on stage.
All day thousands of people lined the dockside of Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, England to welcome home the crews after a gruelling challenge lasting nearly a year, that has seen them take on the world’s largest and most formidable oceans, endured violent storms and frustrating calms, extreme heat and bone-numbing cold while racing ferociously to win.
Gold Coast Australia came first in the final race from Den Helder to Southampton, making it fifteen podium places out of fifteen possible in the world’s longest yacht race.
Today’s Race Finish was a particularly emotional moment for round the world crew member Lisa Blair. The 27-year-old Queenslander who swapped her job as a Sales Assistant to sail around the world, is now part of the unique group of people in the world able to call themselves a circumnavigator.
“I feel fantastic. It has been such an amazing morning, with so many people here welcoming us in. It is the end of my circumnavigation and it hasn’t sunk in at all. It’s been an emotional ride but it’s been fantastic and my fellow crew members have become like family.
“I hope to take away from this journey a career in sailing. The Clipper Race has given me the sailing skills I need to go professional in the sailing industry so that’s something I am definitely looking to pursue.”
People from all walks of life, nationalities and ages can be part of the Clipper Race. Reflecting on ordinary people achieving something extraordinary, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston applauded their achievement, as the nearly twelve months at sea today concluded.
“All the crew members have achieved something special with their lives. They have ventured out across the oceans of the world facing nature in the raw, whether it be the stifling heat and calms of the doldrums or the ferocious storms of the North Pacific and Southern Oceans. They have become great seaman and should all be justifiably proud of their achievement,” the 73-year-old sailing legend said.
The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race is the eighth edition of the world’s longest race, visiting 15 ports of call on six continents. It is also the last race on the Clipper 68-foot yachts, as a brand new fleet of twelve identical 70-foot racing yachts will be launched for the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race. Since the race started more than 4,000 people from all walks of life have participated in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Overall standings for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race
1. Gold Coast Australia – 151 points
2. Visit Finland – 103 points
3. Singapore – 101 points
4. De Lage Landen – 99 points
5. Welcome to Yorkshire – 86 points
6. Geraldton Western Australia – 77 points
7. New York – 77 points
8. Derry-Londonderry – 62 points
9. Qingdao – 58 points
10. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital – 40 points