Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
11 crews consisting of over 200 avid sailors, sailed into Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach last week, the impressive fleet with its colourful sails and striking features drawing much attention from excited community members.
Their arrival represents Race 6 of the around the world race, and took the fleet from Newcastle to our local waters as part of the prestigious Clipper Round The World Race.
Race 6 winners, Zhuhai, are holding their win with pride, ahead of the fifth leg, where the vessel will port in its namesake, Zhuhai in China.
Hosting events over the weekend, the Clipper Race was showcased to residents and visitors alike, with everyone welcome aboard to tour the purpose-built vessels and chat with the individuals who have signed on for the challenge.
The team on Vessel Zhuhai takes top spot for Race 6 of the Clipper Round The World Race. Photo supplied
The crews of the iconic yacht regatta, The Clipper Round The World Race, have received a warm welcome and true Whitsunday hospitality during their layover in Airlie Beach ahead of their next leg of the race.
Cruising into the Coral Sea Marina last week, the competitors of the Clipper Race were given the opportunity to rest and recuperate on land, before they began the fifth leg of the race, for the Asia-Pacific Challenge, through to Zhuhai, China.
Over the weekend the Whitsunday community received their own welcome invitation, when they were invited to explore the fleet of 11 Clipper Race yachts which opened up their quarters for the public during the layover.
During the experience guests also enjoyed the opportunity to connect with competitors who shared their individual journeys of how they came to be on the crew.
One of these is Jessica Fletcher is a 33-year-old purchasing agent from America who had been looking for a life change.
Having an interest in sailing, she stumbled across a previous competitors blog of the Clipper Race and decided to take the plunge and sign up.
“It’s just amazing. I have never done anything like this, and I have grown so much,” she said.
“This is an experience like no other.”
Ms Fletcher is completing the entire route, which will see her spent 13 months at sea and away from home.
Aboard the vessel Zhuhai, skippered by James Finney, the crew was first to complete the journey of Race 6, from Newcastle, New South Wales, to the Whitsundays, which puts them in third place overall.
However, they are keen to begin the next leg, and sail the Zhuhai into the Chinese port of Zhuhai, breaking the Clipper Curse, the dreaded trend of vessels named after ports unlikely to cross first into that particular port.
While in port at the Coral Sea Marina, crews were treated to a day’s snorkelling and sailing adventure on Wings II, courtesy of Wings Sailing Adventures.
Experiencing the best of the Whitsundays from the vantage point of the beautiful Coral Sea, the Clipper competitors were left astounded with the region.
“The stopover has been a great success, from the packed community Open Boat days to the thousands of dollars injected into the local community through accommodation and tour bookings, as well as restaurant and retail expenditure not to mention the international media coverage the race has brought to our region,” explains Joscelyn O’Keefe, Coral Sea Marina
“A lot of us joined because the Clipper Race gave us the opportunity to travel the world like never before,” explained Ms Fletcher.
“Even if you only do one, two, three or all eight legs, this is an amazing experience, one that has not only challenged me, but benefitted me in so many ways.”
The 11 Clipper Race vessels in the Coral Sea Marina. Photo supplied
Clipper Race crews snorkelling in the Whitsundays. Photo: CSM