​A double down under: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam takes top spot

01 January 2024

Race 5: Sta-Lok Endurance Test has proved to be just that, as the fleet faced a cocktail of challenging conditions as the teams made their 2,500nm voyage from Fremantle, Western Australia to Newcastle, New South Wales.

Sailing into first place, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam doubled down on the top spot as it gained its second consecutive win of this race edition. The team crossed the Finish Line in Newcastle at 03:26:50 LT, 16:26:50 UTC.

Image: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam celebrates another win

Maintaining a strong position in the standings throughout, the team started out jostling between fourth and fifth place, before accelerating to become a front runner about a third of the way into the race. As the fleet rounded Tasmania, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam consolidated a lead, which it managed to keep until the Finish Line.

On the pressure of holding onto first place, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper, Josh Stickland said: “Staying in second place is a lot less stress! But we are chuffed to be in first place. We were lucky, as we had a sizeable chunk to lose, around 60-80 miles. So, we knew we could take our time with a few things, and not push quite as hard. Now we are on land we can enjoy the Christmas and New Year festivities!”

Image: Josh Stickland

It was a mixed bag of conditions on Race 5, from tricky upwind beating, through to some incredible downwind surfs in strong breeze as the fleet dipped into the Roaring Forties, and rounded Tasmania.

Jaci Smith, a crew member on board said: “I loved the downwind section, and I think we survived the upwind part, that was not my favourite, but downwind was a lot of fun! I’m really proud of the team, they came together so well.”

First Mate Ella Hebron said: “The team did an incredible job. Every evolution was to perfection and they tried hard the whole way, so it's amazing to be here in the place they deserve! I’m looking forward to a cold beer, shower, go for a run and a nice full sleep.”

The team enjoyed a well-deserved cold beer, hot meat pie (an Aussie speciality) and celebratory Champagne spray on arrival, combined with a warm Newie welcome from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club team as the sun started to rise.

Image: Beers and meat pie to welcome the crew to Newcastle

Arriving into port later today will be to be Dare To Lead, ready to claim yet another podium on this edition. Keep an eye on the Race Viewer to follow the fleet’s progress, and Clipper Race LIVE on Facebook to tune in to the arrival action.

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