The Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race bid a fond farewell to Abell Point Marina and the town of Airlie Beach on the 18th January 2016 as the seventh race of its 14-stage global series, The Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, started for Vietnam.
The 4,310 nautical mile race officially got underway with a Le Mans start, around midday, Tuesday 19 January, 100 nautical miles away in the Coral Sea, where the twelve-strong Clipper 70 fleet rallied for start of race.
Ahead of leaving her homeland for the final time in this race, Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck, who leads the seventh place Da Nang – Viet Nam team and used to live in Airlie Beach a few years ago, said: “It has been the greatest time being back racing in Australia and we enjoyed our best race results yet here, but the excitement continues as everyone has been looking forward to arriving in Da Nang since we left London four months ago.
“We’ve had such incredible support all over Australia and here was no different. It felt as if the community of Airlie Beach really took us into their hearts and made us feel so welcome. Everywhere we went people were happy to see us and were interested in hearing about the race. It’s been a fabulous stopover.”
At 40,000 miles in length, the Clipper Race takes eleven months to complete, making it the world’s longest ocean adventure. It is the only event of its kind that trains amateur sailors to race around the world. 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew have never sailed before they start their extensive training
Abell Point Marina Owner Paul Darrouzet said: “It has been absolutely fantastic for us to have the Clipper Race staying here at Abell Point Marina. Airlie Beach is a small community so to attract such an international event that puts us on the global sailing map like this has been a great boost.
“The entire community here in Airlie Beach has got really behind the race and we’ll certainly be following the teams more closely as they continue to Da Nang and around the world. We wish all the crew and Skippers the best and hope to welcome them back to Airlie Beach for another visit in the not so distant future, now that they’ve seen how beautiful the Whitsundays is.”
The week long celebrations at Abell Point Marina provided a wow welcome experience for all the Clipper fleet, friends and family that rated Airlie Beach as their best stopover port since they left London. Clipper crew and visitors were treated to a champagne and oyster welcome party, firework celebration, food festival and multiple community events such as the Bendigo Bank community breakfast and the Whitsunday Outrigger paddle challenge. Local tourism operators and businesses in the main street also recorded great patronage as the Clipper visitors immersed in the beautiful Whitsundays region.
Ahead of starting the race, which takes three to four weeks to complete, the Da Nang – Viet Nam team led the fleet out as it performed a parade of sail out of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands, surrounded by dozens of local spectator boats who joined them on the water to wish them well in their next challenge.
As the teams endured a tough beat north into prevailing winds as they headed up the Queensland coast and the wildness of the Northern Territories, the Clipper Race fleet have now crossed the Equator for the second time since leaving London. The Clipper fleet are now within 10 days of arriving into Da Nang Vietnam with Derry~Londonderry~Doire leading the charge and having just turned the most southern way point with an upwind beat into Vietnam.
On the approach to Vietnam, the fleet will take advantage of the north east monsoon winds. Spinnakers will be hoisted as the teams charge towards an impressive, highly anticipated welcome in Da Nang where a series of celebrations and festivals are planned for the crew.
For more information visit our Clipper Round the World Yacht Race stopover page.