(January 16, 2018) – After one of the most challenging races so far in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, Visit Seattle has held off a strong challenge from three other teams to chalk up a thrilling maiden victory in the Australian stage from Hobart to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays.
Skippered by 24-year-old Brit Nikki Henderson, Visit Seattle crossed the finish line at 15:05:36 local time (05:05:36UTC), completing the 1,600-nautical mile sprint up the east coast of Australia in eleven days.
“It’s such a good feeling,” remarked Henderson. “I’m finally a bit more relaxed than I have been during the last 48 hours. It’s been exhausting!
“This race has been really, really tough in so many ways. So many different types of conditions and sail changes. The tactics have been really hard but we pushed all the way through. The crew loved the Southerly Busters, it was exciting. We had experience of similar conditions in the past and we’re used to that kind of thing. The crew handled it really well.”
The Visit Seattle team had to work hard for the win. “We were quite prepared for the weather,” shared crew member Marek Omilian. “We faced some similar conditions during Leg 1 to Punta del Este and we were also very well prepared with Nikki’s leadership. She is a very charismatic young leader. She loves teaching and she’s trained us very well.”
From the start, the leg seemed destined to go well for Visit Seattle. The team was second across the start line in Hobart, and closely tailed the leading Sanya Serenity Coast as the fleet headed up the Derwent River.
Despite the tough upwind slog from Tasmania, and up the southeast coast of Australia, followed by the arrival of the infamous Southerly Buster in the waters off Queensland, Visit Seattle worked its way into first place by day 5 and remained in the top four for the remainder of the race.
The win caps off what has been a brilliant All-Australian Leg 4 for Visit Seattle. The team achieved its first podium after finishing a close second behind Sanya Serenity Coast in the opening race from Fremantle to Sydney. Visit Seattle also picked up Scoring Gate bonus points for a third time after being second through the gate in Race 6.
“It is amazing what the Visit Seattle crew has accomplished as a team since they departed Liverpool in August of 2017,” said Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commissioner. “Skipper Nikki Henderson continues to show strong leadership. She has built a close bond among the crew and emphasized the importance of every team member.”
Visit Seattle went into Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race in fourth place in the overall standings, ten points adrift of Sanya Serenity Coast. Here are the Race 6 results:
The fourth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, officially known as Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test, includes three races along the Australian coast. The 11 teams will race from Fremantle to Sydney, Sydney to Hobart, and Hobart to Airlie Beach in the heart of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands.
The third and final stage of the All-Australian Leg 4 began January 5 from Hobart to Airlie Beach. Their next start will be January 29 whee they will take a course for the Chinese Host Ports of Sanya and Qingdao, which completes Leg 5: The Asia-Pacific Leg.
The All-Australian Leg is the fourth of eight legs that make up the 40,000-nautical mile, eleven-month Clipper 2017-18 Race.
Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve* identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.
* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (Greenings) ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.