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Maori Farewell as Derry-Londonderry Sails from New Zealand

4th December 2011
Maori Farewell as Derry-Londonderry Sails from New Zealand

#CLIPPER–There was a traditional Maori kapa haka farewell in Tauranga Bridge Marina and a blast of the horn as a passenger liner at Tauranga's cruise terminal saluted Derry-Londonderry and the other nine teams sailing out into the lively waters of New Zealand's Bay of Plenty for the start of the sixth stage of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. They were accompanied during the parade of sail and at the start of the race by a huge flotilla of local boating enthusiasts who were thrilled to be part of the send-off.

In fairly murky conditions and a stiff north easterly breeze, the yachts crossed the start line off the Mount Main Beach when the gun fired at 1430 local time (0130 UTC). With no distinct advantage at either end of the line, the fleet was divided equally on port and starboard tack and Welcome to Yorkshire was first across, followed in short order by De Lage Landen, Visit Finland, New York and Gold Coast Australia. Geraldton Western Australia, was mid-fleet at the start but seized the advantage and was first to round the windward turning mark before heading back towards Mount Maunganui. Qingdao, Derry-Londonderry, Singapore and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital completed the order over the start line.

At the first turning mark, Derry-Londonderry, who'd moved up to fifth place, let their advantage slip away when they stalled, allowing five other boats to slide past them. As they race towards New Zealand's North Cape with Geraldton Western Australia in the lead, the yachts' positions are expected to change many times before they begin crossing the Tasman Sea. The 1,300-mile race to Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, is expected to take the ten internationally backed teams between seven and ten days to complete.

Derry-Londonderry will be hoping their fourth place finish in the last stage, where they just missed out on a podium position, is a precursor to an even better result in this next race.

Skipper, Mark Light, said, "We did have a good result on the last race. We worked very hard to get that and things are moving in the right direction for us so I'm looking forward to a podium very soon.

"We've got 1,300 miles to race here and it's going to be more of a sprint compared to any of the others. We're geared up for it; we know what we have to do to get our boat moving fast now. There's less room to play tactics than in all the other races so this is a sprint to the finish line."

With five out of five wins under their belts already, Gold Coast Australia's crew desperately want to win this next race. If they do they will be the first team in Clipper 11-12 to secure a coveted home port victory, and only the third in the history of the event to do so. Victory in this race would also equal the most consecutive wins in the Clipper Race, a record set by Alex Thomson in Clipper 98 and held for more than a decade.

Richard Hewson, skipper of Gold Coast Australia said, "If I want to win a race out of this whole series around the world, it's this one. I don't want to put myself or the crew under any more pressure than they're already under. We're just been sailing how we normally sail, sailing safe and obviously trying to keep it at the back of our minds but trying to sail hard."

Other teams have proven themselves just as fast as the Gold Coast Australia crew, with Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire all scoring bonus points in the Ocean Sprint time trials to date in the world's longest ocean race.

During the stopover the crew enjoyed a live video link catch up with some of their supporters and team mates waiting to talk to them back home at the Nerve Centre, the multimedia arts hub in the Derry-Londonderry, the UK City of Culture 2013.

As well as talking to the folks back home, while they have been relaxing in the Bay of Plenty, the crews, who come from all walks of life and represent more than 40 nationalities, have been enjoying the multitude of activities on offer. White water rafting, fishing, sky diving, paddle boarding, hiking, land yachting, sampling the excellent local seafood and wines have all been on the agenda. Groups of crew have visited the stunning volcanic White Island and climbed Mount Maunganui in the company of a Maori guide, before soaking in the geothermal salt water hot pools at its base.

They were farewelled from port with a kapa haka from Tuwairua Performing Arts whose members are all from Ngaterangi Iwi.

Michelle McCann, from Greencastle, a round the world crew member on board Derry-Londonderry said, "I've really enjoyed it, it's been a fabulous stopover. The people have been very welcoming and friendly, it's been brilliant."

"I'm looking forward to getting going again, though – they say the conditions won't be as bad as the last race!" continued Michelle, who is anxious to get to the Gold Coast for another reason. "I've a nephew who lives in Brisbane and I'll meet up with him as I haven't seen him in a good few years."

Glenn Ormsby, Tourism Bay of Plenty's General Manager, said, "The Clipper Race has been a great opportunity to showcase Bay of Plenty to the world and show our water's clean, the beaches are open and we're ready for summer. The race has been great for the local economy too – the hotels, bars and restaurants have been booming, there's been plenty of work for the local marine industry doing maintenance and repairs on the boats, and we've had fantastic exposure to international media as well."

This is the first time the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has visited New Zealand since its inception in 1996 and during the stopover organisers have met with local businesses and government representatives to strengthen links with the region and demonstrate how partners use the event as a global platform to promote trade, tourism, culture and social inclusion.

Each yacht is sponsored by an international city, region, country or company, with many visiting Tauranga to host events and engage with New Zealand businesses, trade contacts and media.

Hundreds of Tauranga residents have visited the yachts during the stopover, meeting crew and discovering for themselves what life is like on board. Presentations in Wellington, Auckland and in Tauranga for those interested in taking part in Clipper 13-14, when the new fleet of 12 70-foot yachts will be introduced, have also been well attended and several Kiwis have been offered berths on the race.

More presentations will be held in Australia, in Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and there will be a Clipper Race stand at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Fremantle, WA, from 3 to 18 December.

Those who prefer to take part in ocean racing can pit their sailing skills against the crews racing to Gold Coast by taking part in the Virtual Clipper Race. Unlike the real thing, where the top prize is the glory, the Virtual Race offers a prize pot of €30,000, along with Rotary Aquaspeed watches and Henri Lloyd gear. Registration is free at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/virtualrace.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Southport Yacht Club between 11 and 13 December.

Published in Clipper Race
Afloat.ie Team

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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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