Festive Fremantle Race Start for Remaining Three Teams

24 December 2019

Three festive Clipper Race teams departed Fremantle Sailing Club today. Wearing Christmas hats and big smiles, Visit Sanya, China, Punta del Este and Unicef are off and ready to chase down the rest of the pack.

After the teams said their goodbyes to loved ones, they slipped lines at 12:00 and headed out to the harbour for a few last safety drills before heading for the start line.

Named The Whitsundays, Heart of the Great Barrier Reef Race, this stage will be raced on elapsed time. The Race Start klaxon sounded at 15:00, exactly 48 hours after the first eight boats departed Fremantle Sailing Club.

Ian Wiggin, Unicef Skipper, said: “Leg 4 is potentially one of the toughest legs, based on the wind, waves and reefs. They can expect a bit of everything. In some people’s minds, they will be thinking of the blue waters and sandy beaches of the Whitsundays. But long before that they’ll be heading roughly 45 degrees south, which is very remote and exposed. We need to be prepared for some very severe weather.”

The race is 3,400 nautical miles long and will take the crew almost two thirds of the way around Australia’s coast. Says Seumas Kellock, Visit Sanya, China Skipper: “Race 5 is a race of two halves. The first section, from Fremantle down to the southern tip of Tasmania, we are expecting big seas and some low pressure systems. Then once we round Tasmania it will only get warmer and sunnier as we head up to the Whitsundays.”

Under a brilliant blue sky, the mini fleet got off to a flying start, with Unicef declared first across the line, followed by Punta del Este and then Visit Sanya, China. The teams will now be attempting to charge down the rest of the pack which is currently being led by Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

The race should take approximately 18 days, with the arrival window starting on the 9 January. On spending Christmas at sea, Skipper of Punta del Este, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez, said: “We have a meal prepared and a little stocking for everyone. The good thing about a Spanish Christmas is that we can have two. This one and then we’ll be celebrating the Festival of the Three Kings on the fifth of January is when we receive presents, so another great opportunity to come together and lift morale.”

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