De Lage Landen have scored their best result of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race so far, finishing the Race 4 from Cape Town to Geraldton in second place.
The team crossed the finish line at 1405 local time (0605 UTC) racing in under an easterly breeze towards the Geraldton shoreline at more than eleven knots.
Skipper, Stuart Jackson, said, “It’s fantastic to finally get in to Geraldton, they’ve given us a really warm welcome and it’s been quite a leg. There have been lots of ups and downs – we’ve been through some great storms and been sitting in no wind as well, which is fairly unprecedented for the Southern Ocean but we’re all here and in one piece.”
Paying tribute to his team, the Southampton, UK, based yachtsman said, “We’re really pleased with our last two results: a third on the last leg and then coming in second here has just been fantastic and it’s giving the crew a lot more belief about themselves as well. They’re working brilliantly as a team and I’m incredibly proud of them.”
In addition to the nine points they will receive for second place, De Lage Landen also scored a bonus point for being third to the Race 4 Scoring Gate. The result is set to move them to third place overall in the competition which, at 40,000 miles, is the world’s longest ocean race.
On board the ten 68-foot ocean racing yachts each sponsored by a city, state, country or corporation around the world, are people like you – crew members from all walks of life, aged between 18 and 72 who between them represent more than 40 nationalities. Each one of them has put their everyday life on hold to take part in a unique challenge of a lifetime: racing across the world’s oceans.
Anna Back from Stockholm, Sweden, joined the yacht in Cape Town for the race across the Southern Ocean. She is one of eight ‘ambassadors’ for De Lage Landen, the global provider of asset-based financing programmes which is leveraging its partnership with the team to launch a world-wide employee engagement programme. Inspired by the Clipper ethos, ‘Raced by People Like You’, De Lage Landen hopes that the way the race crew face challenges as one team will provide many inspiring examples in everyday practice.
The 28-year-old who works in sales support said, “I enjoyed it very much – it’s been more than I expected but it has been great. We have had tough days and days when everything has been easy and everything in between. I’m very lucky!
“As happy as we all are to come in to land it feels strange at the same time because now it’s over; but I will take so much with me from this, so much that I have learned and all the people I got to know – I will have this with me for the rest of my life.”
The De Lage Landen team’s arrival in Geraldton marks the end of a gruelling, three-and-a-half-week, 4,800-mile (7,680-kilometre) race across one of the planet’s most feared and forbidding expanses of ocean during which they spotted icebergs and had to deal with mountainous waves whipped up by winds of up to 70 knots, as well as combat the frustrations of being becalmed for long periods.
“It can be more difficult in light airs than in strong winds because at least in strong winds you’re trucking along and making good miles in the right direction and that keeps everyone’s spirits up. You might be freezing cold but nothing ever lasts forever,” reflected Stuart.
As soon as the crew had completed the customs and immigration formalities they were treated to cold beers and a good Aussie barbecue, laid on by the members of Geraldton Yacht Club.
The entire community has come together to make the stopover possible and Councillor Bob Hall from the City of Greater Geraldton commented, “It puts us on the world map for a place of sailing and waterborne activities as well as opening up the world’s eyes to what a beautiful place we’ve got here. We’re very privileged to get our boat in this race and to show our hallmark right across the world.
“It also gives businesses here some new markets and some new dollars into the community, so it’s a big boost on our economy. As to measuring the tangible dollars and cents, I don’t think you can do that; I think it’s the human capital, the well-being, the messages that leave here with the people who crew the boats – that’s what sells the place abroad and makes people want to come here and see it.”
The yachts will spend the week in Geraldton before setting sail for Tauranga in New Zealand. It is a much anticipated return visit to the West Australian port that became an instant hit with the crews when the city hosted its inaugural stopover during the last edition of the event, Clipper 09-10.
Among the activities during the stopover the crews will enjoy the typically Australian atmosphere of Melbourne Cup Day with a day out at the Geraldton Turf Club; they will visit the beautiful Abrolhos Islands; and pay their respects in a wreath laying ceremony at the HMAS Sydney Memorial where the new reflection pool is due to be officially dedicated next month. The teams will process along the Foreshore ahead of the official welcome and, during a weekend of public entertainment, music and international food stalls, just before the start of the next stage of the race, on Sunday 6 November, there will be a stunning Parade of Sail past the Foreshore which will featuring all ten yachts in formation.
In addition to the packed programme for the crew, team sponsors will be travelling to Geraldton to host events for their clients and partners. The delegation will be part of a larger international trade opportunity created by the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which will make a significant economic impact, not just by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in the City of Greater Geraldton and but also by introducing its destination and trade sponsors to Australia’s Mid West region with longer term business building potential for local companies. The Clipper Race provides its sponsors with access to 15 markets on six continents during the 12 months of the 40,000-mile race.
Five more of the teams, including the home yacht, Geraldton Western Australia, are anticipated on Tuesday and the final three on Wednesday morning.
Race 5 from Geraldton to Tauranga, New Zealand, will begin on Sunday 6 November.