Trio of Australian stopovers a huge success


This edition saw the Clipper Race fleet call into three diverse ports in Australia as part of its race circuit. Crew, officials and supporters soaked up the Straya sunshine in the vibrant WA city of Fremantle, vibrant newcomer Newcastle in New South Wales, and the tropical Queensland paradise of Airlie Beach.

Marking the first in a trio of Aussie stopovers, Fremantle put on a show for the crew after they’d battled through the Southern Indian Ocean and notorious Roaring Forties. The Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) served up a super chilled and sausage sizzle-filled stopover after an epic race.

Watch the highlights:

Each team stepped foot on Western Australian soil to be greeted with cold beers and a crowd-pleasing BBQ. Friends and family gathered on the pontoon to greet their loved ones after crossing one of the world’s most challenging stretches of ocean and enduring over 22 days at sea.

The Fremantle stopover saw a large number of visitors to the Clipper Race fleet, during Open Boat tours and sail days. Over 800 people stepped on board a Clipper Race yacht for a bespoke tour and insight into life on an ocean racing yacht. Guests included representatives from Race Partners UNICEF and Events DC, who hosted a static event and sail day respectively on board a Clipper 70.

Image: Events DC sail event

Members of the FSC and local community also attended the highly anticipated ‘Myths and Madness: an evening with Deputy Race Director Dale Smyth’ to hear from Dale and a panel of Race Crew past and present to learn what it takes to sail across the world’s oceans.

Image: Myths and Madness talk

Throughout the stopover, crew had the opportunity to soak up the city of Fremantle, the vibrant food and drink scene and its beautiful beaches. Crew also took part in a beach clean on South Beach with the local community, in partnership with Sailors for the Sea & Clean Regattas and Tangaroa Blue.

After some R&R, it was time for the real competition to begin, with a cricket match at the Fremantle District Cricket Club where the Clipper Race XI took on the FSC Commodore’s XI. It was a stopover ‘Ashes’ of sorts, with all the normal banter expected of an Australia v England game. The Clipper Race XI narrowly missed out on victory and joined the local team for post-match celebratory drinks and a sausage sizzle (of course.)

Craig Evans, CEO of FSC said: "Fremantle Sailing Club always looks forward to welcoming the Clipper Race competitors, race and event management team and visitors to the shores of Australia. Our club members enjoy the buzz as the yachts and spectators arrive and they are eager to volunteer their time to ensure that the Fremantle stopover is a success.

"The carnival atmosphere leading up to the yachts arriving right through to their departure when we wave them goodbye on their next leg is very exciting and has become part of the fabric of Fremantle Sailing Club and our local community."

Image: Clipper Race vs Fremantle cricket match

The fleet set off to spend Christmas and New Year at sea, and then arrived into the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, a new Host Port partner for the Clipper Race, to a huge welcome and an unforgettable way to see in 2024 for all the crew on board. Volunteers from the club lined the pontoons, welcoming the teams with local information packs, cold beers, hot pies and plenty of smiles.

Image: Volunteers from the NCYC greet the Clipper Race teams

Newcastle was a stopover that had it all with friendly arrivals, a sunset Prizegiving, a Hawaiian party complete with local band and BBQ, as well as a relaxing port for crew. The local beaches and surrounding region was perfect for crew to enjoy: from surfing and swimming at Newie Beach to sampling the local Hunter Valley wines.

The locals thoroughly engaged with the Clipper Race, with over 1,000 people stepping on board a Clipper 70 during the stopover. Clipper Race Recruitment Director, Della Parsons, held two discovery talks to tell locals what it takes to join the round the world sailing event. Furthermore, Clipper Race crew got involved with the local community and Take 3 For the Sea in cleaning up the mangroves, followed by a friendly competitive outrigger canoe race on the Hunter River with the local club.

Image: Open Boat Tours in Newcastle

Image: Outrigger canoe racing

Paul O’Rourke, CEO of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club expressed how the exposure provided by the Clipper Race was priceless for both the club and the city of Newcastle: “The race is very big in Europe and America, so there are big audiences looking at Newcastle as a sailing destination and a coastal destination. To me, it’s the best advertisement before we open our international airport. It’s reminding the world that we are a world class destination.

"It's amazing for local tourism to have so many people in town for the events, to see the boats and meet the crews, and to help boost the local economy.”

The fleet waved goodbye to Newcastle and it was onwards to the tropics with a short sprint to Airlie Beach, the final stop in Australia before the fleet headed to Asia. Cold beers and fresh prawns greeted the crew on arrival into the Coral Sea Marina. The celebrations continued with a beautiful al fresco Prizegiving with a welcome smoking ceremony and live music.

Among hosting a number of open boat tours, the Clipper Race crew got involved in a host of activities, including sunrise yoga. The Little Ripper Clipper Race Cup, saw crew swap a 70 foot yacht for dinghies in a highly-competitive race hosted by the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, crew had the opportunity to hear from Crystal Lacey, a master reef guide in an engaging talk on the reef and the creatures living there. Plus a number of crew got to experience the beauty of the reef itself on a boat trip to Whitehaven Beach, stopping off to snorkel along the way, thanks to Wings Adventures and Coral Sea Marina.

Image: Clipper Race crew in the Whitsundays

Back on land, Whitsunday Wildlife and Fauna Rescue Whitsunday hosted a ‘meet the locals’ event where crew, officials and tourists could get close to some local wildlife, help raise money for the cause and enjoy beers, BBQ and some live music too.

Image: Meet the locals event

Joscelyn O’Keefe, Head of Marketing and Business Development for the Coral Sea Marina Resort said: “With the Whitsundays being a much-loved Australian sailing destination, hosting the Clipper Race once again is not only significant for the marina but also for the wider community. Both the economic and social impact of hosting an international event such as this is considerable and a testament to the warm hospitality and the first-class marina facilities we offer the fleet and crews. Since the Airlie Beach stopover was a leg changeover for many, Race Crew and their supporters had the opportunity to spend extra time in the Whitsundays, injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local community through accommodation, tours, dining and retail.

Image: Welcome to Country to open Prizegiving in Airlie Beach

“From an engagement perspective, offering direct exposure to the race through community events hopefully encouraged future generations to dip their toe into sailing and possibly one day join the Clipper Race themselves!”

Cheers Australia for three action packed and immersive Clipper Race Stopovers!