Full Fleet Arrives in Whitsundays

16 January 2018

All eleven Clipper Race teams have now arrived in Airlie Beach, after completing Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

HotelPlanner.com and Nasdaq completed the arrivals on Wednesday morning, local time, whilst the busy first day of arrivals came to a close under a brilliant starlit night sky, with Garmin, Qingdao, Dare To Lead, Unicef and GREAT Britain arriving in quick succession.

Garmin caught the last rays of sunshine and was treated to a brilliant sunset whilst crossing the line at 18:48:56 local time (08:48:56 UTC). Whilst the team was fifth across the line, Sanya Serenity Coast’s penalty means the team will officially finish fourth and earn 18 points thanks to its Joker Card.

Photo: Garmin arrives into the Whitsundays, credit: Brooke Miles/www.brookemiles.com.au

It was an extra special arrival for Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas who completed his RYA Yachtmaster in the Whitsundays eight years ago. Gaëtan says: “When we came in I was like, oh I know that island, I know that place.

“It was a nice sight after a tough race. We tried something offshore to avoid the currents, we thought we nearly made it and it was close but we just couldn’t break through for a podium. But that’s how it is, that’s ocean racing, but 18 points isn’t bad.”

Photo: Brooke Miles/www.brookemiles.com.au

Qingdao was next to finish, crossing the line at 20:56:11 local time (10:56:11 UTC). The fifth place finish was a great result in the end for Qingdao who was struck by lightning on day 6. All on board were unharmed though the strike affected some of Qingdao’s on board electrical systems and instruments. Despite the setback, the team managed to move up from ninth position to finish in fifth.

Image: Qingdao arrives at Abell Point Marina in the Whitsundays. Credit: Brooke Miles/www.brookemiles.com.au

Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch explains: “We had a big thundery cloud coming so we reefed down and got everything ready and we were just sitting there and no wind and pretty much out of nowhere lightning struck at the top of the mast and fried most of our electronics.

“All our Garmin instruments were gone, so we didn’t have any wind instruments. We still had the Dell Latitude Rugged laptops on board with the MaxSea TIMEZERO so we still had navigation on board which was great and got us where we needed to go.”

Round the world crew member Rose Todd adds: “It was the biggest crack you could imagine and all the electronics spontaneously combusted and we had quite a big fire up the top of the mast!

“We all felt it and I felt like I had been punched in the chest. Since we had no Garmin instruments and we had previously been gybing our way up the coast, we decided to head out to deep water. But it ended up working out as here we are.”

The fifth place result, plus one bonus point for crossing the Scoring Gate in third place, has helped Qingdao close the gap on Sanya Serenity Coast in the overall Standings. Sanya Serenity Coast will officially finish Race 6 in seventh place, after Dare To Lead crossed the line inside the six hour penalty time at 21:32:18 local time (11:32:18 UTC) to secure a sixth place finish.

Photo: The crew of Dare To Lead celebrates the arrival. Brooke Miles/www.brookemiles.com.au

It was a race of extremes for Dare To Lead. At one point the team found itself going backwards in the slight winds, whilst at other times, the team had to brace itself against the 80 knot winds during the two Southerly Busters.

“It was amazing!” says Dare To Lead round the worlder Charlie Garratt.

“The electrical storm was brilliant, there was lightning everywhere. And as the high winds came on, we went up on deck and it was great.”

Dare To Lead teammate Louise Taylor, who will finish her Clipper Race journey in the Whitsundays after completing Legs 1 to 4, adds: “This race has been great. It’s the end of the road for me so it has been a good outing and really enjoyed the Southerly Busters!”

Unicef and GREAT Britain capped off the night arrivals, crossing the line at 23:04:19 local time (13:04:19 UTC) and 00:59:26 local time Wednesday 17 (14:59:26 UTC – Tuesday 16) respectively.

Photo: Unicef arrival. Brooke Miles/www.brookemiles.com.au

Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs says: “That was a race that had a bit of everything really. We had strong winds, light winds, storms that added a bit of excitement. But it was a great race, the team really enjoyed it and got stuck in.”

The final two arrivals, Nasdaq and HotelPlanner.com, were neck and neck as they raced through the Whitsundays archipelago in the early hours of Wednesday morning. HotelPlanner.com managed to finish in front, crossing the line at 09:06:16 local time (23:06:16 UTC), 4 minutes and 53 seconds ahead of Nasdaq.

IMAGE: HotelPlanner.com after finishing the Wondrous Whitsundays Race 6

"There was some great crew work," says HotelPlanner.com Skipper Conall Morrison.

"It was nice to finish ahead of Nasdaq. I think they had some spinnaker problems. Just when the weather was right for a Code 2 (mediumweight spinnaker) they were going 2 or 3 knots slower."

IMAGE: HotelPlanner.com celebrates after arriving at Abell Point Marina in the Whitsundays.

Round the world crew member Roseann McGlinchey adds: "It was so pretty when we entered the Whitsundays, the water was so blue! There were islands everywhere around us and it's really green. It's the first time we haven't come into a big city so it's really different and can't wait to spend some time here."

IMAGE: Nasdaq arriving at Abell Point Marina in the Whitsundays.

Nasdaq crew member Ineke van der Weijden says: "It feels so great to finally get here. That race gave us a little bit of everything really, pretty long and challenging but another good learning experience for us all. I’ve been here and sailed around the Whitsunday islands before but it was quite a long time ago now so I’m looking forward to getting to know it all again."

The Clipper Race fleet will enjoy a longer than usual stay in the Whitsundays, and will be given a true Queensland welcome when the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival launches with a welcome street party in Airlie Beach on Friday.

The inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival will be a a two-weeklong celebration of vibrant regional events and activities showcasing the beauty of the Whitsundays, including a long table lunch on the white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach and a rodeo in Bowen.

Bookings are now open and for more information, see the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival Website.

Join The Race