With just six days to go to the long awaited Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR), international media are arriving in Sydney ready to report on the 71st edition of the prestigious event which is watched by millions of people across Australia and around the world.

Clipper 2015-16 Race crew took centre stage today at the RSHYR’s international Press Conference in the Race Village. Sir Robin, who will compete alongside his teams on board Clipper 68 entry Clipper Ventures 10, joined Mission Performance’s Gavin Reid, GREAT Britain’s Abi Oyepitan, Visit Seattle’s Ana Downer-Duprey and sisters Leo and Caroline Bowen who are on Garmin and Qingdao, on stage to answer questions from the media about their participation.

Round the world crew member Caroline has her own competition going on within the race, with sister Leo who has also been racing on the first four legs. So far the pair are two a piece in their race to beat each other into port. Caroline told the press: “It is great to share this adventure with Leo. We have sailed all our lives. We are both on very competitive boats and we both have very competitive natures.

“Competing in the Sydney Hobart is a big deal for us. I wish her the best obviously though I really hope it will be me waiting for Leo when we reach Hobart!”

Leo Bowen says: “Caroline wanted to be on the same boat as me. I think she just liked the idea of her own personal medic as I am a doctor. Caroline told mum before I did about doing the race, and decided to see based on mum’s initial reaction whether we would race on the same team or not.

“Her initial response was for us not to be on the same boat. We have been able to have our own experience but then share it when we get to port. It will be a lifetime of humiliation for whoever loses.”

Ana Downer-Duprey, our youngest round the world female may be young in years but has already faced more challenges in life than those double her age ever would. A non-sailor before she signed up to the Clipper Race, Ana explained: “I had two serious accidents a few years ago that left me with a lot of injuries. I saw the Clipper Race as a great way to build my confidence. If I can sail round the world, I can do anything.

“Although we have already faced some tough challenges, I am feeling a little nervous to be competing in such a big event as this Sydney Hobart race. Nerves are good though I think!”

Gavin Reid, the first deaf crew member to circumnavigate on the race, says: “For me, being hearing impaired can be difficult and is certainly an extra challenge. Working at night and sailing for 30 days continuously is pretty tough. After 17,000 nautical miles so far, we have certainly adapted as a crew.

“When I signed up for the race and found out all about the RSHYR, it really captivated me. I am really looking forward to taking part.”

Despite the huge challenges of representing Team GB at the Olympics and winning Commonwealth gold, sprinter Abi Oyepitan says the Clipper Race is the toughest thing she has ever done in her life. She says: “Taking part in the Clipper Race has been quite a shock for me. It has been a whole new world. I have been used to very fast races with lots of recovery time. This has been a great challenge, and a great chance to do something totally out of my comfort zone.”

Bringing a really international injection to the 109 overall registered teams, the twelve Clipper Race teams make up almost half of the Sydney Hobart race’s 28 international entries.

A total 225 Clipper Race crew are taking part in this leg, representing 26 different nationalities, including Korean, Turkish, Egyptian, Spanish, French, Welsh, Irish, Chinese, Norwegian, Barbadian, Indian, Estonian, Swedish, German, Polish, Dutch, Singaporean, Russian, New Zealander, Finnish, Belgian, American, Canadian, and South African.

Final comment from the stage went to Sir Robin who says: “Everyone is fired up for this. There is tremendous competition in our fleet. The racing is very tight and any one of five or six boats could win based on the performances so far but the others are also showing great promise and will be putting their all into this short but intense race.

“It’s a long way for us to come but it is an irresistible opportunity and our schedule ties in with it. It is the only time in the race that our crew get to line up against other, non-Clipper Race competition, and professional competition at that. It really means something to go home and say you have a Sydney Hobart under your belt. The RSHYR is one of the great classic races.”

Race 5 in the 14-stage Clipper 2015-16 Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, starts Boxing Day at 1pm AEDT (0200 UTC) and will be broadcast live to millions across Australia on Channel 7. You can also watch follow live on the race’s official website, plus we will be live periscoping the team departures via the @ClipperRace Twitter account.

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