The following is a press release from the Clipper Round-the-World Race:
In a tense finale to Race 11 from New York to Cape Breton Island, Hull & Humber crossed the finish line ahead of the rest of the fleet to secure their first line honours of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race. They beat Spirit of Australia by just 17 minutes and crossed the line 40 minutes ahead of Cape Breton Island who finished third.
As the front-running pack of six yachts rounded Scatarie Island on the easternmost point of Cape Breton Island the margin between first and sixth dwindled to ten miles and, as they closed in on the finish line, just two miles separated the leading trio of Hull & Humber, Spirit of Australia and Cape Breton Island.
But the crew of the English entry held their nerve, holding off stiff competition from the Australian overall leaders and the home favourite which was being willed on by the entire population of the island.
Hull & Humber’s skipper Justin Taylor said, “It feels excellent – this has been a good one to win as well, I think. It was a hard victory, actually. We were very focused right from the start. It was all very nip and tuck with quite a few of the boats but we were in front most of the way in the leading pack. We built up a good lead then we lost it; it was all a bit of a lottery really.
“At the end Spirit of Australia gave us a bit of a scare but we just happened to take the right tack in and they took an offshore tack and it didn’t pay off for them. We must have done ten spinnaker changes, headsails up and goodness knows what else and the guys were just great.”
Spirit of Australia’s skipper, Brendan Hall, said, “We had windward advantage on them with about 20 miles to go to the finish. We took slightly different strategies – they went inshore we went offshore looking for more breeze and the inshore route paid off this time and fair play to them. We’re really glad to see Hull & Humber get some success – they’ve had a lot of adversity in this race so it’s a fantastic result for them and for us as well.”
Hull & Humber crossed the finish line at 1916 local time (2216 GMT) just 17 minutes ahead of Spirit of Australia and 40 minutes before Cape Breton Island. As the fleet is racing under IRC handicap ratings final positions will be confirmed once all ten boats have crossed the finish line. Uniquely Singapore finished fourth ahead of California who pipped Team Finland to the post in the final stages, beating them to the line by 16 minutes.
A large crowd turned out to greet the first arrivals, some waiting for more than four hours to see the yachts arrive at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion, while along the banks of Sydney River more people flashed their car headlights and sounded horns in welcome and came out in boats to greet the yachts.
“All the way down the river there were people along the shore with their cars flashing their lights, boats coming out – an amazing turn out,” commented Cape Breton Island’s skipper Jan Ridd as he and his team arrived in port to loud cheers and applause.
This race from New York has been given an added dimension as it is named the Eagle Spirit Challenge to celebrate the unique scenery and wildlife of Cape Breton Island whose large population of bald eagles is celebrated in the design of Cape Breton Island’s hull. Hull & Humber will receive the winner’s trophy depicting a soaring eagle at Monday’s prizegiving ceremony.
During the nine-day stopover a packed programme of entertainment has been planned including concert and two huge firework displays. On Tuesday 15 June the founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, will be skippering Hull & Humber in the Cape Breton Clash of Legends. He will compete against two of Canada’s greatest yachtsmen, John Hughes, the first Canadian to complete a solo circumnavigation, who will skipper Qingdao, and Derek Hatfield, the nation’s most successful ocean racer who is about to begin his campaign to complete a second solo circumnavigation and who will take the helm of Cape Breton Island.
The Clipper Race is the only race in the world where the crews come from all walks of life, all ages and with all levels of experience. More than 35 nationalities are represented by those taking part and, prior to their training, some 40 percent of the crews had never stepped aboard a sailing yacht before. Berths are now available for the next edition of the race and on Tuesday 15 June at 6.30pm there is an opportunity for people interested in taking part in Clipper 11-12 to find out how to sign up at a presentation in the Kavanagh Room at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion.
The yachts will be open to the public to visit on Thursday 17 June between 2 and 4pm and Race 12 to Cork, Ireland, will begin on Saturday 19 June.