The Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race bid a fond farewell to Australia today as the seventh race of its 14-stage global series, The Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, starts for Vietnam.
The 4,310 nautical mile race will officially get underway with a Le Mans start, estimated around midday local (0200 UTC) tomorrow – (Tuesday 19 January) – 100 nautical miles from Airlie Beach, where the twelve-strong Clipper 70 fleet is currently heading to.
Ahead of leaving her homeland for the final time in this race, Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck, who leads the seventh place Da Nang – Vietnam team, said: “It has been the greatest time being back racing in Australia and we have enjoyed our best 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 excellent support from the people of Da Nang along the way and we know there is a huge welcome waiting for us and the entire fleet so we can’t wait to arrive and finally experience their great hospitality and culture.”
Skipper Olivier Cardin, who leads first overall placed team LMAX Exchange, says: “One of the challenges on this race will be getting through the Doldrum passage as quickly as we can and trying to get back into the trade winds. We hope to be leading the fleet by this point.
“We know how to be fast and we’ll continue to work on that. The race is getting closer and closer with Great Britain and the other teams, such as Garmin, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and now Da Nang – Vietnam are pushing us harder all the time too so we have to focus hard on our performance. We don’t take anything for granted.”
Ahead of starting the race, which will take three to four weeks to complete, the Da Nang – Vietnam 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 the teams on the water to wish them well in their next challenge.
With a tough beat north into prevailing winds as they depart and head up the Queensland coast and the wildness of the Northern Territories, the Clipper Race fleet will then cross the Equator for the second time since leaving London.
This race will test the navigation skills of the teams as they try to work out the best route through the remote communities in Papua New Guinea and into the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
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.
The departure to Da Nang marks the end of the All-Australian Leg, which started in Albany in November and included the challenging Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Since leaving London in August, the Clipper Race fleet has completed 18,000 of its 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation.
The arrival window into Da Nang is 17-21 February and a full schedule of cultural activities are planned for crew and public to get involved.