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#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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#ClipperRace - Dramatic weather systems that have dominated much of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race continue to make conditions challenging for the Clipper Race fleet during the 10th day of racing.

While the fleet is enjoying some long-awaited downwind weather conditions, it had to endure another ‘Southerly Buster’ weather front first, which brought winds of up to 78 knots, electrical activity and squally downpours.

Visit Seattle managed to use these conditions to its advantage and has began a drag race during what is predicted to be the final 24 hours of the race.

However, skipper Nikki Henderson, who is no stranger to fighting for first place right up to the finish line, knows that anything can still happen.

“So, we have arranged another close one for all you supporters. This last bit is SO nerve racking. Constantly looking over our shoulder and hoping we don't make any mistakes. Let's hope it works out.”

In second place is Liverpool 2018. After an impressive consecutive three-day lead, the pink boat is only two and a half a nautical miles behind the leader and the crew will be pushing hard to try and achieve its best leaderboard finish to date.

Speaking from on board Liverpool 2018, skipper Lance Shepherd says: “Being stuck in a storm for 90 minutes meant that all the other boats were able to catch us up and now we are in the drag race with PSP Logistics, Visit Seattle and of course, Sanya Serenity Coast.”

The drag race at the front of the fleet also includes PSP Logistics, which has done remarkably well to claw back from 11th place during the early days of the race to third, and is now fourth a fraction of a mile behind Sanya.

Speaking from on board, PSP skipper Matt Mitchell thinks the team could see more progress during the final 24 hours: “Now we are making good speed, not quite directly where we want to go but a forecast favourable wind shift later on should solve matters there.”

Sanya Serenity Coast sits currently in third place and skipper Wendy Tuck has been impressed by her competition, reporting: “It was fast and furious, but we weren’t the fastest. We are now playing catch up again with Visit Seattle.”

Elsewhere, there has been further changes to the leaderboard with Garmin gaining a place and sitting in fifth place, with Qingdao now in sixth and Dare To Lead in seventh, just a fifth of a mile behind in the latest positions update.

For Garmin, which played its Joker during Race 6, this is an all-important gain. Skipper Gaetan Thomas says: “Now we are zig zagging in between reefs and islands for the last round, the leaders had the southerly winds before us and finally they passed ahead, but it is not over!”

Change continues further down the fleet with Unicef, which was in seventh yesterday, in eighth place today and GREAT Britain, which was in fifth yesterday, now sitting in ninth place.

Despite its fall on the leaderboard, the GREAT Britain crew remains on top form and skipper Andy Burns praised his team’s ability to handle the tough Southerly Buster fronts.

There has been little change at the back of the fleet, however, with Nasdaq and Conall Morrison’s in 10th and 11th place for the third consecutive day.

According to Clipper Race meteorologist, Simon Rowell, the fleet should continue to keep spectators guessing right up to the finish line and with localised squalls coming off the hot land, there could still be changes to the Race 6 leaderboard.

While it’s difficult to predict which teams will secure podium finishes just yet, its guaranteed to be a close, exiting and nerve-wracking finish in the Wondrous Whitsundays tomorrow.

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#ClipperRace - The Clipper Race teams have been continuing their upwind slog as they tack up the Queensland coast, and positive thinking finally looks set to pay off as the latest weather forecast predicts a front will shortly pass over which should leave behind southerly winds.

Race meteorologist Simon Rowell has suggested that the first of the teams will be soon be experiencing the front which will pass over the whole fleet within the next few hours.

After that, it should be a slightly faster and flatter race as the teams look to close the last 400nm of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast have been swapping the lead between them following some intense racing in close proximity.

Lance Shepherd, skipper of Liverpool 2018, reports: “We’ve been tacking our way up around Fraser Island for what seems like forever now and along the way we've been trading places with our mate, Wendo, and her crew on board Sanya Serenity Coast. We're not playing games on AIS either, we've literally crossed within metres of each other.”

PSP Logistics reached third place after making what it hopes is its final tack of the race before the wind shifts, but has since slipped to fourth behind Visit Seattle, whose skipper Nikki Henderson is working on keeping the team upbeat during such a mentally and physically demanding race. She explains: “On board, we have decided to focus on positive thinking and optimism to will our way there faster.

“We are waiting anxiously for the dreamy front to arrive bringing its luscious flat fast downwind conditions.”

Garmin, which is playing its Joker, is in fifth place and further offshore than other race leaders, and GREAT Britain follows in sixth. Like the rest of the fleet, the two teams looking to make the most of the upcoming front which should leave southerly winds behind its squalls.

One team, however, is slightly more hesitant about the forecasted front. In seventh place, Dare To Lead skipper Dale Smyth reflects on the last front that brought a notorious Southerly Buster to the fleet: “The sailing at the moment is tough with hard upwind sailing.

“Looking forward to having the Southerly winds later tonight although with some trepidation about its initial arrival as the last one gave us a hiding.”

Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race has served up some of the most dramatic and mixed weather conditions of the 2017-18 Clipper Race so far. During an impressive electrical storm overnight, Qingdao, in eighth place ahead of Unicef in ninth, was hit by a lightning strike which has affected some of its on board electrical systems and instruments.

All crew are safe and well, the yacht is fully under control and the team is still racing. Qingdao is currently utilising battery powered navigation lights at night and is able to charge the boat batteries via the main engine in neutral, which does not contravene any race rules.

It also has GPS functioning normally on the Garmin chart plotter for navigational use, and a handheld GPS as a backup, but it is unlikely that the crew or skipper will be able to send back any blogs or emails for the remainder of this race.

Towards the back of the fleet, last place is being traded between Nasdaq and Conall Morrison's, the latter having the upper hand by less than two nautical miles in the latest positions update.

In a bid to escape strong currents, Nasdaq has changed its tactics over the last 24 hours, with skipper Rob Graham explaining: “Nasdaq has finally got fed up of short-tacking close inshore to avoid the East Australia Current, and last night we headed further out from the coast in search of more stable wind.

“Things look good so far, although we know we will have to cut back West again at some stage so we're sailing as close to North as possible.”

After each of the 11 teams completed the frustratingly slow Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, it was revealed earlier today that Unicef, PSP Logistics and GREAT Britain came out on top to claim three, two and one bonus race points respectively. Despite the slow progress, less than 12 minutes actually separated the top two teams.

Andy Burns, skipper of GREAT Britain which is currently in sixth place in this race, says: “Coming second in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint has certainly given the crew that little boost they needed for the final push.”

Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity coast are currently expected to be the first boats arriving at Arlie Beach on Wednesday 17 January between 2am and 8am local time (Tuesday 16 January between 4pm and 10pm Irish time/UTC).

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#ClipperRace - On Day 7 of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race, the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint has turned into a marathon.

Wind holes have halted the progress of the Clipper Race fleet as it battles against the strong East Australian Current, which has even taken some teams backwards at times.

While frustrating for skippers and crews, it has been fascinating to observe the race viewer with regular changes in position.

It appears that Liverpool 2018 has played the tactical game best and took the lead before entering Stealth Mode at 6am Irish time/UTC today, Friday 12 January.

Skipper Lance Shepherd explains: “By taking us inland we were now in a position to hug the coast and try to utilise an element of sea breeze to take us north. So that's exactly what we've been doing all morning. It's been great fun sailing up and seeing the sights of Byron and the famous Gold Coast.”

With Liverpool 2018 under the invisibility cloak, it is Sanya Serenity Coast which, once again, is the official race leader, although skipper Wendy Tuck has been frustrated by the lack of progress.

“If you went to bed and woke up and we are still in the same place, do not adjust your computer … It is still working, it’s just that the wind has not been working. We have sort of just been zig zagging with not much forward motion happening.”

In second place, Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson remains philosophical. “Sailing is one of those tough sports where you don't really know when the hard work is going to end - it could be a week, it could be double that - the endurance required is phenomenal at times.”

Third-place Qingdao has slipped back to just over 15 nautical miles behind the race leader. Skipper Chris Kobusch reported earlier: “We misjudged the East Australian Current and now have to play catch up with Visit Seattle, Sanya Serenity Coast and Liverpool 2018. Still 600nm to go, but the game just got harder.”

The top three teams have followed Liverpool 2018 on more of an inshore route, but the next five teams have headed further offshore.

Leading the eastern pack, but in fourth place overall, is PSP Logistics, and skipper Matt Mitchell has explained that it was a painful night at times: “We were drifting backwards with lots of current against us and very little wind.

“The guys did a great job pulling through though and the outcome could have been a lot worse! We appear to be out of the current now and although speed isn't sensational, we are moving a lot better than we have been!”

Unicef is in fifth and Garmin, which recovered well to reached sixth position having initially re-appeared from Stealth Mode at midday yesterday in tenth, has just been pipped by GREAT Britain by just over a mile.

Having played Garmin’s Joker Card on this race, skipper Gaëtan Thomas has not given up hope of a strong finish: “Nothing is finished until we’re across the line in Airlie Beach! We are working hard here on trimming, on driving, on tactics to get back in the lead.”

Dare To Lead is furthest offshore, currently in ninth position, with skipper Dale Smyth reporting: “We made the massive error of being too far out in the East Australian Current in a dying wind and drifted backwards for a grand total of 17 miles last night.

“I have been trying to head inshore for the last three days but have always found favourable velocity on the tempting offshore tack and would have had to suffer major loss to go inshore.”

Further inshore and around 64nm behind the race leader in eighth place, is Nasdaq. Skipper Rob Graham says that between the wind holes, headwinds and gyres (swirly bits) of the East Australian Current, the team has hardly been moving and at times been going backwards.

“I don’t know how much detail the Race Viewer gives of our track, but looking at our screens onboard, Nasdaq seems to have traced a picture of a whale in the ocean with all of our meanderings.”

In 10 place, and slowing over the course of this morning to almost 100 miles behind the current leader, skipper Conall Morrison is preparing for stronger winds after quite some time in a wind hole.

“This north-easterly breeze that has filled in is forecast to be stronger than what we have experienced of late. Looks like there will be sail changes and reefs required and more upwind sailing than I would normally choose,” said the nominee for Sailor of the Year.

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell confirms that the breeze should back for the teams and will be ‘on the nose’ until sometime on Sunday night, when the next front should catch up, before a final good run to the finish in Airlie Beach.

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#ClipperRace - The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued a Safety Bulletin on the “use of safety harness tethers on sailing yachts” following the tragic fatality of GREAT Britain crew member Simon Speirs on Leg 3 of the latest Clipper Race.

Clipper Race management has been working in co-operation with the appropriate authorities to understand the reasons as to why Speirs’ safety tether did not keep him on board.

Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “We continue to be deeply saddened by Simon’s loss and it is important that we learn the lessons from this tragic accident.

“The Safety Bulletin from the MAIB reinforces what we have said to crew at our Sydney stopover and we have taken steps to prevent a situation like this ever occurring again.

“Sailing is essentially a safe sport but when we see something like this happening, we need to put our heads together to see what we can do to remove the problem.”

As explained at the crew brief in Sydney before the start of Race 6, initial investigations established that the cause of the failure was a very unusual tether clip angle, owing to the clip being pulled sideways against a hard object.

This resulted in the clip failing at well below its straight test strength and measures have been taken to eliminate this risk.

Following further testing of the original tether, which is top of the range, the Clipper Race and the safety committee of each boat unanimously agreed to return to using it at the Sydney stopover subject to these additional measures being put in place.

Sir Robin explained in a recent interview that these measures include wrapping 10mm rope around the cleats to the point that the tether now slides over them, and the Clipper Race will stop at nothing to further improve the safety measures wherever possible across the fleet.

The MAIB has said it will publish a full report on the fatality of Simon Speirs — including all identified contributing factors — on completion of the investigation, which is currently ongoing.

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#ClipperRace - A gripping race to the Scoring Gate unfolded during the third day of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race, which ultimately saw Sanya Serenity Coast come out on top, followed closely by Visit Seattle in second and Qingdao, which has scored points in every Scoring Gate so far, in third.

For its efforts, Sanya Serenity Coast, which is also in first place on the Clipper Race leaderboard today (Monday 8 January), will pick up three bonus race points.

Skipper Wendy Tuck, who has led the team to score points in four of five Scoring Gates so far, said: “I do feel for the pink boat [Liverpool 2018], as soon as we crossed the Scoring Gate the wind changed completely making all near impossible for them to get through ahead of Qingdao.”

Visit Seattle claimed second place in the Scoring Gate and will pick up two bonus race points, but currently sits in third place on the leaderboard.

Close competition kept the team on its toes throughout, as skipper Nikki Henderson explains: “It was touch and go for a while as to who would make it through — us, Qingdao or Liverpool 2018.”

Qingdao, which has proved to excel at picking up Scoring Gate points, was the third team to cross the virtual line, earning one extra race point, but sits in fourth place on the leaderboard today.

Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “We did it again. Another Scoring Gate, another point. This is our fifth consecutive Scoring Gate and the streak is unbroken.

“It was super close this time, though. The long downwind run allowed us to catch up with the rest of the fleet, but just before we got to the gate the breeze died and it was a struggle to get to the virtual line.”

Liverpool 2018, which holds second place today, narrowly missed out on Scoring Gate points but maintains its high leaderboard position.

Speaking from on board, skipper Lance Shepherd said: “We chose to forego all of our hard efforts in pushing slightly north east to the gate and instead chose to follow the wind and keep heading further north in an attempt to maintain our position in the fleet.

“It was a hard choice but frankly I think it was worth it as it has allowed us to stay close to the front of the pack.”

Garmin, which is the only team to have played its Joker, has dropped to fifth place even after deciding to forego the Scoring Gate in favour of leaderboard positions, in a move that Skipper Gaëtan Thomas hopes will still pay off further ahead — though he will struggle to fend off the challenge of a resurgent Dare To Lead, now in sixth place and a fraction of a mile behind as of 3pm Irish time/UTC.

The overall mood among the fleet is somewhat split during the third day of racing; some teams seem to have escaped the worst of the forecasted light winds as others feel frustration as they work hard to tackle light wind patches.

Light wind conditions have kept, which has slipped to ninth place, and GREAT Britain in eighth from making fast progress — but the teams are attempting to make the most of the light weather. skipper Conall Morrison is using the light breeze and lack of boat heel to continue maintenance while Andy Burns, GREAT Britain skipper, reports: “Everyone seems to have fully forgotten about the upwind endured during the first few days and have adapted without complaint to the light wind conditions.”

Nasdaq was earlier feeling frustrated after a series of unlucky wind holes has hindered progress, though the boat has since moved ahead of GREAT Britain.

Unicef, meanwhile, was reporting somewhat different weather conditions before entering Stealth Mode till tomorrow morning.

Skipper Bob Beggs reported: “Another day of reasonable progress mainly pointing in the right direction, hurrah! The wind holes threatened in the weather forecast have yet to affect progress for Unicef so fingers crossed we will pass through unscathed.”

Further out east, PSP Logistics has some ground to make up after a strong tactical move failed to pay off. Skipper Matt Mitchell explains: “We came all this way for what was forecast to be the most stable wind-avoiding wind holes and such like but it's been anything but!

“We are to the degree where we planned to be and events haven't transpired as we thought they would, still, that's why they call it a forecast I guess!”

Looking ahead, Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell forecasts a breeze to fill in, albeit from the north, during the coming hours which will be welcomed by all and should help the fleet to progress up the coast.

With the Scoring Gate now out of the way, focus will soon turn to the upcoming Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint as this tactical race continues.

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#ClipperRace - Some divisive early navigational choices and tight racing means the leaderboard made for gripping viewing in the first hours of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race.

PSP Logistics and Garmin both gybed towards Tasmania to stay closer to the Rhumb line before 6am Irish time this morning (Friday 5 January), while most of the Clipper Race fleet headed further offshore into the Tasman Sea.

Ahead of the gybe, PSP and Visit Seattle were under one nautical mile apart rounding Tasman Island with the lead changing hands behind them.

In her report this morning, Visit Seattle skipper Nikki Henderson said: “A tactical race down the Derwent left positions changing constantly. We had a good start and then fell right to the back of the fleet which was frustrating to say the least. We have been fighting back and now have found PSP Logistics - the race is on!”

After leading for most of Race 5 until the crucial final stage, PSP skipper Matt Mitchell is feeling determined for a strong finish in this race.

“Our start today was great and we managed to pull a few miles on the fleet during the tacking battle out of the Derwent so we are very pleased,” he said. “The guys are relishing the chance to get back out racing again and we feel that we have a bit of a point to prove on this one, so watch this space!”

The decision to gybe put Garmin in third place this morning, though they’ve since crept up to second.

After making the decision to play the Joker Card, meaning points for this race will be doubled, skipper Gaetan Thomas and his crew are giving all they can for a strong finish in order to make best impact on their position in the overall Clipper Race standings.

Sanya Serenity Coast was hot on the leaders heels in fourth this morning, and over this afternoon Irish time has taken the lead by a three-nautical-mile margin.

Skipper Wendy Tuck will also be determined to keep her excellent performance streak up in this all-Australian Leg.

Just over six nautical miles separates the first seven boats in this early stage, meaning positions are changing regularly.

Dare To Lead remains in fifth place as it heads north for the upwind battle, with Liverpool 2018 in sixth, Qingdao seventh and in eighth place.

Reflecting on the Hobart stopover, and the start of the Wondrous Whitsundays Race, skipper Conall Morrison said: “What a stopover, and what an honour to receive the Rani Award at the prize giving for the most meritorious performance in the Sydney-Hobart Race. It is not every day you win (your class in) the Sydney-Hobart race so you have to make the most of it!”

Morrison, who is’s latest Sailor of the Month and also a nominee for the Sailor of the Year Award, added: “It is nice to be going again however it’s a marathon not a sprint and we must be well prepared for the strong Northerly forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning.”

Further back in the fleet, GREAT Britain is in ninth and Nasdaq in 10th, with Unicef trailing after a far east run and currently 24nm behind the leader, although leaderboard positions are all to play for as teams head north.

On board Nasdaq, skipper Rob Graham reports that the team’s fourth place during Race 5 has given them a psychological springboard for further successes.

“The Nasdaq crew were delighted to have crossed the line in third place in the Clipper Race fleet during the Sydney Hobart. However, the two-hour redress awarded to for their pickup of the MOB made them the victors on corrected time, and moved Nasdaq down to fourth.

“This is in no way a negative thing: deserved its time, and the much more important achievement of helping a fellow sailor in need. It's been great to see the recognition of their competence and seamanship (as all Clipper Race crews are trained) by RSHYR organisers and beyond in the sailing media - please tell everyone you know to vote Conall in the Sailor of year 2017.”

Graham adds: “For our part, Nasdaq is going to use its good showing in the RSHYR as a spur to greater things in the races to come.”

Clipper Race meteorologist Simon Rowell explains that the northerly winds will intensify over the next 24-28 hours and should reach speeds between 30 and 40 knots.

This is likely to lead to some significant position changes as the fleet beats upwind and spreads out in this highly tactical race.

The arrival window for the fleet into Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach, is Saturday 13 to Monday 15 January, when the teams can look forward to the inaugural Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival.

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Professional sailor Conall Morrison, from Derry-Londonderry, was given a standing ovation at the official Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR) Prize Giving in Australia yesterday evening after not only skippering his team to its first race victory, in the Clipper 70 Class, but also for taking home the Most Meritorious Performance award for the famous event. As previously reported the Lough Swilly skipper made a textbook retrieval of a man overboard from another boat, a feat that has already earned him an sailor of the month award here.

The 35-year old Skipper said: “It’s an awesome feeling, like a little kid’s dream come true. The whole team worked so hard during the race and all our time put into safety has paid off. I couldn’t be prouder and it’s a credit not only to the crew on board but for the entire team.”

The RSHYR, which is one of the most famous bluewater classic yacht races in the sailing calendar, doubled as the fifth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race and the eleven-strong Clipper Race fleet was among 102 boats competing in the iconic bluewater classic from Sydney to Hobart, which set off on Boxing Day. The win marked Conall and his team’s first Clipper Race podium result.

It was an eventful race and at approximately 1700 local time (0600 UTC) on 26 December, went to the assistance of another boat after being informed of a man overboard. The crew successfully retrieved the man in the water within 15 minutes, and after the on board medical assistant determined he hadn’t suffered any injury, the crew member was returned to his vessel and both boats resumed racing.

It was an action that resulted in the team being awarded the Rani Trophy, judged by the RSHYR Committee for the Most Meritorious Performance, by the Governor of Tasmania, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM, and the Skipper’s actions were commended by the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, John Markos.

Despite the time lost, managed to catch up with the Clipper Race fleet and was the tenth of eleven Clipper 70s to cross the line in Hobart after racing for 3 days, 4 hours, 31 minutes and 7 seconds, however the team emerged as the victor after redress was taken into account.

An international jury hearing arranged by the RSHYR Organising Committee awarded with 120 minutes of redress and, as all eleven Clipper 70s had finished within 90 minutes of each other after racing 630 nautical miles, this was enough for Conall Morrison to claim victory over Wendy Tuck’s Sanya Serenity Coast, which had been the first Clipper 70 team to cross the line.

Upon receiving the plaque for coming first out of the Clipper 70s, Conall said: “I definitely feel sorry for Wendy and Sanya Serenity Coast who has had to give up their first place, but I think it is very deserved for everyone in my team. We sailed a good race, kept our eyes on the wind and changes, did loads of sail changes - especially near the end - and really pushed.”

The Clipper Race teams, which have already completed over 17,000 nautical miles of their global circumnavigation, are stopping over in Hobart for a few more days before departing for the sixth stage on Friday 5 January – this will take them up the east coast of Australia to the Whitsundays to finish off this All-Australian Leg.

After Australia, the Clipper Race fleet will race to Sanya and then Qingdao in China, before crossing the Pacific Ocean to Seattle, down the west coast of America to Panama, up to New York and then a final Atlantic Ocean crossing to Derry-Londonderry where the teams will arrive between 10 – 14 July 2018. Skipper Conall Morrison can be sure of a warm welcome to his hometown, which will host the Foyle Maritime Festival between 14 – 22 July 2018, before the Clipper Race fleet departs on its final race to Liverpool, UK, where its circumnavigation will be completed on 28 July 2018.

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#ClipperRace - After being last into Sydney in the fourth leg of the Clipper Race, has been declared the winner of this week’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Clipper 70 Class after being granted a 120 minute redress for going to the assistance of a fellow competitor shortly after race start.

At approximately 5pm local time (6am Irish time/UTC) on Tuesday 26 December, the Conall Morrison-skippered yacht went to the assistance of another boat after being informed of a man overboard.

The crew successfully retrieved the man in the water within 15 minutes — and after the onboard medical assistant determined he hadn’t suffered any injury, the crew member was returned to his vessel and both boats resumed racing.

Despite the time lost, managed to catch the rest of the Clipper Race fleet, with all 11 yachts crossing the finish line within 90 minutes of each other yesterday (Friday 29 December).

Clipper Race director Mark Light said: “Skipper Conall Morrison and his team did extremely well and acted very quickly under the circumstances.

“Going to the assistance of a fellow sailor or competitor is absolutely the correct thing to do and the team handled everything superbly well which clearly indicates how well the they were trained and led by their Skipper. The Clipper Race training has once again paid dividends and shows the merits of such an extensive programme.

“As such, the redress award for is fully justified and my congratulations go to Conall and his team for their efforts and first place in the Clipper 70 class.”

The award of redress for was decided by an international jury hearing, arranged by the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Organising Committee at 10am local time on Saturday 30 December.

The decision means Sanya Serenity Coast, which took line honours for the Clipper 70 class, will take second place while Garmin places third.

As the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race doubles as Race 5 of the 2017-18 Clipper Race, will now receive 12 points for the win, with Sanya Serenity Coast and Garmin to receive 11 and 10 points respectively.

As previously reported on, Howth Yacht Club’s Gordon Maguire and his Ichi Ban crew were conformed as overall winners of this year’s Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Published in Clipper Race

#ClipperRace - crossed the finish line in Sydney Harbour on Saturday 16 December at 20:24:50 local time (09:24:50 UTC/Irish time) to officially bring Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test — and the first stage of the Clipper Race’s All-Australian Leg 4 — to a close under a glorious sunset.

Skipper Conall Morrison said: “It was tough at times but fun. We had eight new crew joining our eight round the worlders so it was really nice to have a good mix and have the round-the-worlders do some coaching for the new crew.

“We didn’t really make any mistakes, we were just a wee bit slower going downwind. When it was quite windy, we avoided the windiest bit and that slowed us right down. And then we got stuck in a few wind holes after coming round Tasmania and a couple of times we could see the boats ahead but they just got wind before us.”

The team got off to a strong start to Race 4, and featured in the top three for the first few days of racing after leaving Fremantle. But on Day 7, after heading further north than planned to avoid some seriously strong winds, slipped down the rankings to sit mid-fleet for the majority of the race. narrowly missed out on collecting points again in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint after setting the fourth fastest time but there was more bad news to come, with the team falling foul of the fickle winds off the east coast of Tasmania.

A few hours ahead of the last-placed team, the ‘Pink Boat’ of Liverpool 2018 crossed the line at at 17:17:00 (06:17:00 UTC) to officially take 10th place in Race 4.

The team finished strongly after a challenging race. Skipper Lance Shepherd said upon arrival into Sydney: “It’s been tough with all the wind shifts, the wind holes and everything else. We had total steering failure on both helms at one point, which was challenging but we were able to sort it out as always.

“That set us back a little bit but we quickened the pace towards the end. I couldn’t really believe it until I saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House and I thought ‘Wow, we’re nearly there!’”

Unicef was the first team to arrive on a second day of boat arrivals, finishing in sixth place at 09:05:12 local time on Saturday 16 December (22:05:12 UTC on Friday 15 December).

Following its victory in Race 3 it was a steady start for Unicef out of Fremantle but the team was consistent throughout, peaking in third place on Day 3, before being caught in the grasps of the light airs after rounding the south of Tasmania.

Garmin arrived into Sydney later on in the day, and crossed the finish line at 15:28:26 local time (04:28:26 UTC) to become the seventh team to finish Race 4.

Led by Skipper Gaetan Thomas, Garmin had a strong start to the race from Fremantle, and at one stage on day three occupied the top spot of the leader board.

However, like many teams in the fleet, Garmin got caught in the frustrating light airs off the coast of Tasmania, and in doing so lost its hold on the leading pack and dropped out of contention for a podium finish.

An hour later, GREAT Britain and Nasdaq arrived neck and neck in Sydney Harbour in a finish so close it was declared a dead heat — the first ever draw in the history of the Clipper Race.

“Even down in eighth and ninth position, we’ve got to get the decision correct and I think we have done that,” said race director Mark Light.

The former Derry~Londonderry~Doire skipper even set out to the finish line on a RIB to compare with press photos of the finish.

“And after not being able to split it on board the boats, I think both teams are going to be very happy,” he added.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia hosted the prize giving for Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test in the early hours Irish time of Sunday 17 December.

After a night of celebration, it will be straight back to work for the Clipper Race crews as they prepare for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which begins on St Stephen’s Day.

And all eyes will be on whether home skipper Wendy Tuck of Race 4 winners Sanya Serenity Coast will play her Joker Card to double her points on what will be here 11th outing on the ‘blue water classic’.

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