30 November 2017

Fremantle, and in general, the city of Perth, has a proud sailing tradition and culture, so it should come as no surprise that the locals have fully embraced the Clipper Race during our time in Western Australia this week.

A series of talks have been held across Perth, including one on Wednesday at the Fremantle Sailing Club that was attended by around 100 people, all wanting to learn more about the race and hear first hand from alumni Clipper Race crew members about exactly what it takes to take on the race of your life. Earlier in the week, more than 50 attended talks at the Hillarys and Rockingham Yacht Clubs.

IMAGE: Recruitment talk at Fremantle Sailing Club.

Clipper Race Crew Recruitment and Development Director David Cusworth says the interest has been extraordinary, saying: “Australians have a proud history in the Clipper Race. We have our Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck, and around 50 Australian crew members, including four from Perth, and three Australian team entries, WesternAustralia.com, the Spirit of Australia, and Gold Coast Australia, have all won previous editions of the race.

“We’ve had incredible interest from people here this week, wanting to know all about the race and how they can take part. We’ve already had a number of round the worlders and leggers who have actually already signed race contracts with us so it’s great to see that Perth will definitely already be part of the next race too!”

The Stopover in Fremantle also provided an opportunity for 72 sailors from six local yacht clubs –Hillarys, South Perth, Claremont, Royal Perth, the Cruising Yacht Club of Western Australia (CYCWA), and our hosts, the Fremantle Sailing Club – to experience first-hand life on board, whilst at the same time increasing their rivalry during an Inter-Club regatta on six of the Clipper 70s.

IMAGE: Crew preparing to start the Inter-Club Regatta.

With the Fremantle Doctor, the local name for the cooling afternoon sea breeze, the clubs couldn’t have asked for better conditions in which to put the Clipper 70s through their paces. In highly competitive two-hour race on Fremantle Harbour, PSP Logistics, which was crewed by the CYCWA, came out on top, narrowly besting Sanya Serenity Coast and its South Perth Yacht Club crew.

The general feeling among the local sailors when they arrived back to base at the Fremantle Sailing Club was awe for the skill of the Clipper Race crew, though there was also a tinge of jealousy in the fact that the crew get to race on the 70s full time, rather than just for an afternoon.

Jamie Weeden, a crew member in the Clipper 2005-06 Race, knows only too well the thrill of racing one of the boats across oceans. Jamie was on board the winning PSP Logistics for the Inter-Club Regatta and says: “It was fantastic day. I think for a lot of my club mates at the CYCWA, they had heard stories from Trevor Taylor, a round the worlder on PSP Logistics, so to get out on his boat and get a taste of what he is experiencing at the moment brings some of those stories to life.

“A lot of those guys sail small boats, probably only up to 30 foot, so for them, jumping on a 70 footer is a really different experience.”

And on getting the win, Jamie added: “There are quite a lot of inter-club championships and the clubs do like to compete, so it was definitely good to get the win!”

The Clipper Race will depart Fremantle on Saturday 2 December for the 2,500 nautical mile race to Sydney. The fleet will then take part in the Rolex Sydney Harbour Yacht Race, before sprinting up the east coast of Australia to the Whitsundays, where the crew will enjoy true Queensland Hospitality at the Clipper Race Carnival.

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