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Clipper Race: Visit Seattle Claims Whitsundays Podium

16th January 2018
Visit Seattle crosses the finish line Visit Seattle crosses the finish line Photo: Brooke Miles/

#ClipperRace - After one of the most challenging races so far in the 2017-18 Clipper Race, Visit Seattle held off a strong challenge from three other teams to chalk up a thrilling maiden victory in Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

Skippered by 24-year-old Brit Nikki Henderson, Visit Seattle crossed the finish line off the coast of Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays at 15:05:36 local time (05:05:36 Irish time/UTC), completing the 1,600-nautical mile sprint up the east coast of Australia from Hobart in 11 days.

Arriving into Abell Point Marina, where the Clipper Race fleet will be berthed, Nikki said: “It’s such a good feeling. I’m finally a bit more relaxed than I have been during the last 48 hours. It’s been exhausting!

“This race has been really, really tough in so many ways. So many different types of conditions and sail changes. The tactics have been really hard but we pushed all the way through. The crew loved the Southerly Busters, it was exciting. We had experience of similar conditions in the past and we’re used to that kind of thing. The crew handled it really well.”

The Visit Seattle team had to work hard for the win. The 11th and final morning at sea saw Visit Seattle off the coast of Mackay and just five nautical miles ahead of the second placed PSP Logistics.

Sanya Serenity Coast was only another mile astern, with just seven nautical miles separating Visit Seattle from the fourth placed Liverpool 2018.

The win caps off what has been a brilliant All-Australian Leg 4 for Visit Seattle. The team achieved its first podium after finishing a close second behind Sanya Serenity Coast in the opening race from Fremantle to Sydney.

Visit Seattle also picked up Scoring Gate bonus points for a third time after being second through the gate in Race 6.

Less than half an hour behind the winning boat, PSP Logistics once again claimed a place on the podium after crossing the finish line in second place at 15:30:05 local time (05:30:05 Irish time/UTC).

“It feels great to be back on the podium,” says PSP Logistics skipper Matt Mitchell. “We have been very close in the last couple of races in the All-Australian Leg 4. We were leading for most of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and then got knocked out by a wind hole so it’s great to be on the podium again.”

This is the third podium for PSP Logistics, which placed third in both the opening race from Liverpool to Punta del Este in Uruguay, and also in Race 3 from Cape Town to Fremantle.

Arriving into Arlie Beach 21 minutes after PSP was the crew of Liverpool 2018, who claimed their first podium result of the Clipper Race.

Skippered by Lance Shepherd, from Blackpool, Liverpool 2018 crossed the finish line at 15:51:44 local time (05:51:44 Irish time/UTC) as the fourth team.

However, Sanya Serenity Coast, which was the third boat to arrive, was handed a six-hour time penalty after inadvertently closing within two nautical miles of Waddy Point on Fraser Island two days ago, breaching the exclusion zone as laid out in the Race 6 course instructions.

On the result, Skipper Lance says: “That was challenging, very challenging, it was a very technical race but it was good, very good!

“Coming into the finish here in the Whitsundays was very tight. It was unbelievably close; the pressure was really on. We were leading for a lot of the race, but then lost a couple of miles to two boats.

“We went into the race with the mentality that we want to win – and we want to win every race in 2018.”

After emerging from Stealth Mode in first place on Day 8, Liverpool 2018 jostled back and forth with Sanya Serenity Coast for the lead for three consecutive days, at times within close sight of each other.

Just last night the team was in sight of winners Visit Seattle but suffered an unfortunate spinnaker drop, which saw it slip down three positions as it pushed for the finish.

The win is a huge turnaround for Liverpool 2018, whose previous best finish in the Clipper 2017-18 Race was fifth in the South Atlantic Leg 2 from Punta del Este to Cape Town.

Sanya Serenity Coast officially crossed the Race 6 finish line at 15:45:49 local time (05:45:49 UTC) but due to the six-hour penalty, the team had to settle for seventh place on the leaderboard as Garmin (18:08 local/08:48 UTC), Qingdao (20:56 local/10:56 UTC) and Dare to Lead (21:32 local/11:32 UTC) all bettered its corrected time.

Only — skippered by Sailor of the Month for December, Conall Morrison — and Nasdaq are still racing to decide the final two places, and are expected to cross the finish line late this evening Irish time.

The Clipper Race fleet will be berthed at Abell Point Marina, the first global 5 Gold Anchor accredited marina in the world, during its stay in the Whitsundays.

And the stopover will be one to remember, with the crew to be welcomed by the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival – a two-weeklong celebration of events and activities showcasing the beauty of the islands.

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