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Christmas at sea for crew competing in Australian Coast-to-Coast stage of Global Sailing Race
青岛帆船网 2019-12-24 18:32:55 

The Australian Coast-to-Coast stage of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race got underway from Fremantle yesterday (22 December). The tough 3,400 nautical mile race will see teams of non professional crew tackle challenging conditions as they race to the finish port of the Whitsundays.

The starting cannon, signalling Race Start, sounded at 1500. As the teams competed for prime position to cross the start line, it was reigning champion Qingdao, representing the Chinese sailing city, which crossed first, shortly followed by Ha Long Bay Viet, Nam and Dare To Lead.

The fifth race of the global sailing event, has been named‘The Whitsundays, Heart of the Great Barrier Reef’ race and saw eight teams slip lines from Fremantle Sailing Club at 1200 local time, with friends, family and locals lining the breakwater to wave them off.

The race, expected to take around 20 days, will see the teams sail down Western Australia, towards the infamous conditions of the Roaring Forties and also dip into the Southern Ocean. The international crew will be celebrating Christmas far from home and ringing in the new year on board.

This Australian leg of the epic race will challenge the Race Crew both mentally and physically and is expected to be one of the most varied stages of the 2019-20 edition so far. The Bass Strait will be offering up choppy sea states and as the fleet travels up the East Coast, the teams will need to keep an eye out for Southerly Busters, a weather phenomenon which sees an abrupt and violent change in the weather.

After rounding Rottnest Island, the bows of the yachts will point south, as the fleet tracks along the coast of Western Australia, out of the Indian Ocean and back to the challenge of the Southern Ocean. Cape Leeuwin marks the south western tip of Australia and is one of the three Great Capes, the second of the Clipper 2019-20 Race route, and something only an adventurous few can say they have rounded.

On the conditions ahead Clipper Race Director, Mark Light, said:“The first stage down the west coast of Australia is going to be a tough beat upwind, then as the teams round Cape Leuwin, one of the world’s great capes, there is a bit of a light patch on the forecast. Once they are clear of that and head south, on the great circle route, they can expect to pick up the normal westerly winds of the Southern Ocean they can expect some pretty hefty weather systems and some good downwind surfing.

“As the teams then turn the corner, underneath Tasmania, it will be very varied; upwind, sometimes choppy across the Bass Strait. Teams should not forget the East Australian current and always keep an eye out for the Southerly Busters, shifts in conditions which can sneak up and be pretty violent.”

Some 180 everyday people, from around the world, including a paediatric surgeon, professor, journalist, engineer and a student are taking on the race route which takes the teams below the 40th Parallel for another sleigh ride east.

Qingdao-born crew member, Xiang (Niklas) Lyu, sailing on board Qingdao, for the race to the Whitsundays said:“Race 5 is going to be a very exciting race, the weather with change a lot and the sailing will be really interesting. This is my first time ocean racing, as a sailing instructor mostly I sail inshore, near land, this will be very different we will only see the sea and the stars. Not only is the sailing exciting but I am also going to have real Christmas, celebrating with people from all over the world so it is going to be a new and very special experience for me.”

Xiang is one of nine Qingdao Ambassador Crew taking part in the eight stages of the Clipper 2019-20 Race and he hopes to take what he has learnt back to Qingdao and encourage more people to enjoy sailing. He said:“Qingdao is my hometown, and I am proud to be representing the sailing city. Sailing as a sport is still developing in China so I want to learn as much as possible from racing but also from other people in my crew who are from around the world about why they are interested in sailing. I then want to bring all this experience back to China, back to my club, and I want to introduce this sport to all the people around me and around Qingdao so more and more people can enjoy sailing.”

Following a later arrival into Fremantle, a further three Clipper Race teams will depart on 24 December, exactly 48 hours later than the first eight. They will race on elapsed time against the rest of the fleet.

The eleven teams are expected to arrive at the Whitsundays between 09 and 12 January where the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival awaits.


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