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Cork Heads for Home in Clipper Race

18th June 2010
Cork Heads for Home in Clipper Race

 

At 1615 local time (1915 GMT) Cork, Ireland, crossed the start line at Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club to begin the 2,075 mile race to Kinsale. The team, led by Hannah Jenner, has 48 hours to build the biggest possible lead before the fleet of nine Clipper 68s starts to hunt them down. For the first time in the Clipper round the world yacht  Race’s history this will be a pursuit race after the original Clipper 68 was lost when Cork hit a submerged reef in the Java Sea last January.

 

Race start for Cork followed the usual procedure and crews from the nine remaining boats lined the rails of their yachts to cheer their friends out to sea. A team from the Fortress of Louisbourg primed their 8lb replica cannon and, after the ten and four and one-minute preparation signals, fired it to unleash the yacht towards the waiting ocean.

 

The Challenge 67 that the team is now sailing is slightly shorter and also heavier, so the fleet is racing under IRC handicap rules. For Race 12 that handicap is being applied up front, hence their departure from Cape Breton Island today, rather than with the rest of the fleet on Saturday afternoon.

 

Cork’s crew almost immediately changed up from their yankee headsails to a mid-weight spinnaker to take full advantage of the ten knots of breeze. 

 

Irish crew member Kevin Austen shared his thoughts prior to the boat departing, saying, “This Atlantic crossing is a nice big carrot at the end of the stick and we are looking forward to pushing her hard and bringing her home. The concept of the pursuit race is really interesting; the next 48 hours will be pedal to the metal, keep her moving to get as much space between us and the pursuers. The weather gods have not been on our side in the last couple of races but we have already shown that we can be competitive. We are hoping to show that properly now and push fast and hard across the last great ocean crossing of this race.”

 

The others are really looking forward to the moment the team makes landfall on the other side of the Atlantic, including County Kerry resident, Jacqui Browne. 

 

“When I see Ireland for the first time, you will probably never see such a big smile, ever, on a person’s face,” she says. “I’ll have the biggest grin I have ever worn! Even this morning, seeing the routing chart and seeing the straight line across the Atlantic, it makes home feel very close.”

 

Before they slipped their mooring lines, the team was invited to a send-off reception at which Burton MacIntyre, a local step dance teacher who will be coming to the stopover in Kinsale and Cork with the Cape Breton Island delegation, put the crew through their paces. For many of the team arriving in Ireland will mark their return home after almost a year away and a quick brush up on their dancing skills in readiness for a huge party in Kinsale was deemed essential. Burton promised to be on the quay side to greet the team when they arrive after the final major ocean crossing of the Clipper 09-10 Race. 

 

He won’t be alone – the Cork crew members already have big plans for celebrating their homecoming and supporters will be there in large numbers. 

 

Kevin says, “My mother has a few plans for Cork but it’s easier getting a line up for a music festival early on as it is to get the plans out of my Mum! I have heard talk of a big barbecue. They will all be in Kinsale; my friends – the two Tims, Luke and Neil and all of my mates will be down. They’ve rented a house in Kinsale and it should be a massive big party.”

 

Jacqui will also have a sizeable group of supporters waiting to cheer her in as she arrives home. “It will be really emotional but for now it’s excitement at the anticipation of seeing friends and family that I know will be waiting at the quayside and I’m really looking forward to seeing them and hearing them screaming and roaring out my name. I would expect at least 50 to 60 people that I know will be there – people from Cork and Kerry plus many of the Cork crew who have sailed on previous legs. It’s going to be one big happy party.

 

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“I am particularly proud of this boat because I went out to Antigua to collect her and work on her and now I’m bringing her home to Cork. That has always been our huge ambition, as the Cork team, to bring her in to Cork – hopefully in first place.”

 

Skipper Hannah Jenner knows she has the team that can do that, and that starting ahead of the rest of the pack could give them a slight psychological edge. 

 

“It really depends on what happens with the weather because the first 24 hours are going to be quite difficult,” she explains. “It looks like potentially there’s going to be light winds from a lot of different directions so it’ll either be good for us going out there, getting into reasonable wind and knowing we’re getting ahead or its going to be a really stressful night as we go slowly and nervously look at the clock as it counts down to the time when the others start. So, fingers crossed for the good wind and good boat speed and we’ve just got to keep it. 

 

“The boat’s fine in heavy airs and we’re competitive under the handicap in heavy airs but if the wind drops under 15 knots it becomes a nervous time for us. So we’re hoping for that breeze that keeps us ahead and that we can get far enough ahead and into new breeze that’s due to fill in around the time the rest of the guys start so that we can keep moving when they’re moving.”

 

The other nine yachts of the Clipper fleet will leave Sydney, Cape Breton Island, on Saturday 19 June and they and Cork are due to arrive in Kinsale between 1 and 4 July for an eight day festival there and in Cork City. For more information on the festival programme, visit www.corkclipperfestival.com.

 

Aerial footage of Cork Harbour below.


Published in Clipper Race
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About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures on the planet, also regarded as one of its toughest endurance challenges. Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors. Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to train drivers, nurses and firefighters, farmers, airline pilots and students, from age 18 upwards, to take on Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions. There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date is 76.

Now in its twelfth edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race started from London, UK, on 02 September 2019.

 

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