Zhuhai Arrives into the Whitsundays, the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef

11 January 2020

Zhuhai crossed the finish line at 10:54:19UTC on 12 January 2020 and became the eighth team to join the fleet in the Coral Sea Marina Resort, Airlie Beach.

It was a race of two halves for Zhuhai, which opted for a southerly route following the departure from Fremantle. This initially provided positive results, however the team became blighted by lighter winds following its decision to sail inshore. Zhuhai had success in the Scoring Gate though, and will add a bonus point to the three points they will receive for ninth place.

Skipper Nick Leggatt has sailed the waters into the Whitsundays before, he has traveled up the entire Great Barrier Reef and stopped at Hamilton Island. He says: “It’s a great area for sailing, with pretty steady winds and flat water - very easy to enjoy. It’s very unique and almost like sailing on a lake.

Amongst the 16 crew on board the 3415 nm Australian Coast-to-Coast Leg were Zhuhai Ambassadors, Kefu Wu and Yang Yang, who both are representing China’s city of islands. Kefu, 22, who is a student from Zhuhai says: “It took me a few days to adapt to life on board but I loved it. My English has improved so much as we all have to speak English on board - even when singing! I have learnt about myself that I can adapt very easily to anything. I am really grateful to Zhuhai for this opportunity because this was an unforgettable experience.

Fellow ambassador Yang Yang says he doesn’t want to leave the boat in the Whitsundays despite never having sailed before coming to England for his Clipper Race training. He says: “On this leg I was seasick for the first two days but then got over it and was fine for the rest of the journey.

“There were several things I loved about my time on the boat. The first thing was the people from around the world, working and living together. The second thing was all the wildlife we say including whales, dolphins and over the past few days, sea snakes - that was wonderful. Then finally the life on the boat was simple. Every day life is too complicated - with two many things to think about. But on this boat, all we needed to think about was to race faster each day.”

GoToBermuda arrival

GoToBermuda received a warm welcome into the Whitsundays as the third team to arrive, crossing the finish line of Race 5 at 22:05:31 UTC.

A strong start from Fremantle on the 22 December put Skipper David ‘Wavy’ Immelmann, First Mate Fabian Fisahn and the 13 crew members in good stead for the 3,415 nautical mile race which took them around three quarters of Australia. The team was vying for the lead during the first week at sea, spent Christmas Day in first place and then managed to carve out some distance ahead of the fleet to sit comfortably in second before rounding Tasmania.

On the strategy of the race David said: The race to Tasmania was absolutely fantastic on the other side it went all pear shaped. We worked really hard to arrive in third, the crew deserve every bit of credit.”

The teams faced many varied conditions and GoToBermuda experienced the famed Southerly Busters. David explained: “A Southerly Buster is basically the leading edge of southerly front that comes in quite violently. We were hit by one about a week ago, so we went from zero knots to about 75knots; which stick your head out of the window when your car is doing 100mph kind of wind!

“We couldn't see it coming due to the smoke from the bush fires.But I sensed the warning signs. Suddenly the wind died on us, I called the crew up briefed them just incase, then the air went dry, then the wind died completely so it was reef in yankee down then we were hit. For the next four hours we had 75kntos from behind sailing at 18knots in shorts and t-shirts screaming along having the best time.”

GoToBermuda is currently sitting tenth in the overall standings but is steadily improving its result with each race. Depending on the elapsed time result, GoToBermuda could surpass its best result to date and finish in third place and receive its first podium. All eyes are now on when Unicef will finish the race.

On board is the youngest crew member of the entire Clipper 2019-20 Race, 18-year-old Ellen O’Brien, who is fitting in ocean racing around her A-Levels. Arriving into the Whitsundays is the end of an incredible journey she explained: “It was everything I expected and a million times more, it was the best experience of my whole life - I am speechless.

“We’ve had blistering heat and we’ve also had the other extreme during the 12-3 watch in the Southern Ocean when it was freezing. We got caught in a Southerly Buster which was mad, I was on watch and everything went silent almost, Wavy was like we need to prepare and then it just swooped in.”

She added: “My confidence has grown throughout the race, I feel a huge sense of achievement and high on adrenaline arriving here into the Whitsundays. I ”

Arrivals will continue into Coral Sea Marina Resort, Airlie Beach over the weekend, keep an eye on the ETAs for the latest updates on estimated arrival times.

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