Australia’s Gold Coast has announced that it will field the first ever east coast entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. With a yacht named Gold Coast Australia, the Queensland entry will line up against nine other internationally sponsored teams when the race kicks off from Southampton on the UK’s south coast on 31 July 2011. The Gold Coast will welcome the ten-strong fleet to its shores in December 2011 as one of 15 stopovers over the course of the 12-month race.
The biennial Clipper Race was established 15 years ago by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world in 1968/69. Clipper 11-12 will be the eighth edition of his race which sees the addition of a new leg from West Australia to the Gold Coast via New Zealand, bringing the Clipper fleet to the east coast of Australia for the first time.
Sir Robin says, “We have a long tradition of competitive entries from Australia and I am delighted our decision to bring the race to the Australian east coast has stimulated the participation of the Gold Coast. We have a large contingent of crew from Queensland and neighbouring states and I am confident that they will be very excited to hear they are racing aboard Gold Coast Australia.”
With the strap line ‘Raced by People Like You’, the Clipper Race is the embodiment of Sir Robin’s vision to enable people from all walks of life to experience the thrills and challenges of ocean yacht racing. Each of the teams is led by a professional skipper but the crews are all amateurs, nearly 40 per cent of whom have never sailed before applying to take part. Taking charge of Gold Coast Australia is Richard Hewson, a 31-year-old professional sailor from Tasmania. His crew represent a broad spectrum of professions from a cardio thoracic surgeon to an electronics engineer with six nationalities represented including 18 Australians, six of whom are Queensland residents.
The addition of the new Australasian leg has increased the Clipper Race track to 40,000 miles, making Clipper 11-12 the world’s longest global ocean race. The race is contested by ten identical stripped down 68-foot racing yachts, each sponsored by a city, region, country or company. Already confirmed for Clipper 11-12 are the Keppel Corporation sponsored Singapore and, representing China’s Olympic sailing city, Qingdao, both entering the race for the fourth time. Geraldton Western Australia has recently been announced as the west coast’s third entry and returning for a second time is Visit Finland, backed by the Finnish Tourist Board and Scottish entry Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. Making their debut in the race are Derry-Londonderry, celebrating their status as UK City of Culture 2013, and De Lage Landen, the global provider of asset-based financing programmes, which will race under the Dutch flag. The names of the remaining two yachts will be revealed in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the race.
Previous Australian entries in the Clipper Race have had strong pedigrees with Western Australia’s inaugural entry in Clipper 05-06 and Spirit of Australia in Clipper 09-10 both winning overall. Whilst WA’s second team in Clipper 07-08 failed to retain the prestigious Clipper Race Trophy, the yacht named westernaustralia2011.com helped Perth beat off fierce competition from eight other international cities to secure the ISAF 2011 World Sailing Championships. In a similar way the Gold Coast’s entry will help in supporting their bid to secure the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The international fleet will visit 15 ports on six continents including Brazil, Cape Town, west and east coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qingdao, California, New York, Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry and the Netherlands before returning to the UK.
In December 2011 the Gold Coast will make its debut as a stopover when the fleet races north in a 1,150 race sprint from New Zealand which will take the yachts approximately eight days to complete. Hosted by Southport Yacht Club, the Gold Coast will provide the crews, along with their friends and family, with an array of engaging local events. They can expect to enjoy the region’s welcoming nature which is complemented by endless entertainment and adventure and is renowned as a celebrated holiday experience set on one of Australia’s most spectacular natural stages.
Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke said the Gold Coast is thrilled to be a sponsor and the community was looking forward to welcoming the yachts in December.
“We aim to provide memorable local events that capture the spirit of Clipper and the Gold Coast, as well as providing an international presence at stopovers globally.”
The yacht provides the city with a great marketing opportunity to promote the Gold Coast as a tourist destination around the world. Equally, the stopover provides the Gold Coast with the chance to showcase what the region has to offer, as well as benefiting from the strong economic impact that the race delivers.