Racing Towards the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival

24 October 2017

During the upcoming exhilarating and chilly Southern Ocean Sleighride, the Clipper Race fleet may feel a world away from the tropical Coral Sea of the Whitsundays, but each nautical mile raced brings the teams closer and closer to the Clipper Race Carnival.

Today marks just 80 days to go until the Clipper Race fleet arrives in Airlie Beach for the Clipper Race Carnival in January 2018. Situated in the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, the stopover is sure to be a stand out experience for Skippers, crew, and supporters alike.

IMAGE: Airlie Beach, the Clipper Race's home away from home in the Whitsundays.

“This will be our second visit to the Whitsundays, after the Clipper 2015-16 Race stopped in Airlie Beach on the way to Vietnam in 2016,” says Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

“Whilst we created memories to last a lifetime during that stopover, the 2018 edition, with the addition of the Clipper Race Carnival, will be even bigger and better.”

IMAGE: GREAT Britain, one of the twelve teams in the Clipper 2017-18 Race.

The Whitsundays stopover, the final stopover in Australia for the Clipper 2017-18 Race, will be a fortnight of showcasing what the region is renowned for; beautiful scenery, amazing sailing, and warm, Queensland hospitality.

“I remember being so excited when it was announced at Crew Allocation that the Clipper Race would be returning to the Whitsundays,” says Charlie Garratt, a crew member on board Dare to Lead.

“Not only is it beautiful and will tick seeing the Great Barrier Reef off the bucket list, but I honestly can’t wait to experience the Clipper Race Carnival. The events and activities look amazing and I’m sure it will be a highlight of my circumnavigation.”

Events will be staged across the Whitsundays, starting with a big welcome party for both the Clipper Race crew and the community in Airlie Beach, with the events calendar to also include a Long Table Lunch on the pristine silica sands of Whitehaven Beach, and an Australia Day Rodeo in Bowen.

IMAGE: An Australia Day Rodeo will be one of the highlights of the Clipper Race Carnival.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the carnival, supported by the Queensland Government via Tourism and Events Queensland, was a significant addition to the state’s world class events calendar.

“When these yachts sail into the Whitsundays in January I know they’ll be wowed by what they find,” she said.

“It will be a great way for us to showcase the Whitsundays lifestyle and reaffirm the region’s reputation as one of the world’s premier sailing destinations.

“With visitors to the two-week long carnival expected to spend millions the event will help to fast-track the region’s recovery post-Cyclone Debbie.”

IMAGE: The Long Table Lunch on Whitehaven will be a popular event during the Clipper Race Carnival.

Locals and visitors to the region will also have the chance to get up and close and personal with the fleet during open boat tours, whilst Alumni Clipper Race crew will hold a Crew Presentation night, detailing just how people from all walks of life can take on the ultimate ocean adventure and spend eleven months racing 40,000 nautical miles across the world’s oceans.

Before all the fun of the Clipper race Carnival can begin, the fleet will race each other in a sprint up the east coast of Australia. With the crew fresh following a few days rest after the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the teams will ring in 2018 by departing Hobart on Friday 5 January, for the first predominantly upwind wind race from Tasmania, up the dominating Eastern Australian Current, to the Whitsundays.

The fleet is scheduled to start arriving to Airlie Beach from Saturday 13 January, 2018, and will be berthed at Abell Point Marina until the Asia Pacific Leg 5 to Qingdao, China, via Sanya, begins on Monday 29 January.

The arrival will be extra special for one member of the Clipper Race Crew. Resort Manager Jack Pemberton will be competing in the 4,693 nautical mile All-Australian Leg 4 on Sanya Serenity Coast, Skippered by Australian Wendy Tuck.

"I operate a Resort Complex beside Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach,” says Jack.

“After hosting and talking to crew during the Clipper Race visit in 2016 I signed up for the All Australian Leg 4.

“Being Australian, I wanted to the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race but the highlight of course will be arriving home in the beautiful Whitsundays in January.”

To follow the Clipper Race fleet as it races towards the Whitsundays, keep an eye of the Race Viewer.

To experience the Clipper Race Carnival yourself, or to find out more about the plans for the Clipper Race Stopover in January, please visit the Whitsundays Clipper Race Website.

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