A fairy tale home port win in the New Zealand to Australia leg of the Clipper Round the World yacht race was denied by mere minutes this morning as Visit Finland held off the previously unbeaten Gold Coast Australia.
After an 1150 mile sprint from Tauranga which began on 4 December, the difference between the Finnish representative, skippered by Olly Osborne, and Gold Coast Australia, skippered by Richard Hewson, amounted to six minutes at the finish line off the Gold Coast Seaway.
After swapping the lead several times in the last 24 hours, Visit Finland eventually claimed victory at 4.44am local time, with Gold Coast Australia crossing the line at 4.50am.
De Lage Landen arrived in third place.
The yachts made their way through the Gold Coast Seaway this morning before mooring at the Southport Yacht Club, based on the stunning Broadwater, where they enjoyed an ‘Aussie’ fry up and local beers.
The Clipper Round the World race was founded by renowned round-the-world non-stop solo yachtsman Sir Robin Knox Johnston. It pits everyday people against each other and the elements under the command of professional skippers.
It is the first time the Gold Coast has hosted the Clipper Round the World race. The Gold Coast is a fitting stopover: it has one of the highest rates of boat ownership per capita of any Australian city and boasts more waterways than Venice.
The Gold Coast is home to almost 530,000 residents and is situated in the booming South East Queensland corridor. South East Queensland, which includes the state capital Brisbane – 50 minutes away by private vehicle -, has a population of three million people and high grade infrastructure including major air and sea ports.
“The Gold Coast is a dynamic city and we’re thrilled to host a dynamic event such as the Clipper Round the World race,’’ said Gold Coast City Council Mayor Ron Clarke.
“During the stopover we’re excited to showcase our diverse industries. For instance, the crew members in the Clipper fleet will experience first hand our innovative marine industry when the boats undergo maintenance at the Gold Coast Marine Precinct.
“We are a city that excels in business through our Investment Attraction Program and incentive fund which assists eligible companies from export-focused and knowledge–based industry sectors.’’
Mayor Clarke welcomed the myriad nationalities aboard the 10 yachts.
“The Gold Coast itself is a culturally diverse city with approximately a quarter of our residents born overseas.’’
With more than 70 kilometres of unspoiled coastline and 100,000 hectares of World Heritage Listed Rainforest, the Gold Coast is Australia’s premier holiday destination.
“The Gold Coast has always been famous for fun,’’ said Gold Coast Tourism Chief Executive Officer Martin Winter.
“There is an inherent feeling of a Gold Coast holiday that people recognise and which can’t be replicated elsewhere.
“The Clipper Round the World race is a fantastic event and we intend to show the crews an unforgettable time during their stopover which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.’’
During the stopover, Clipper crews and skippers are expected to learn about Aboriginal culture, try a surfing lesson, get up close with native wildlife including kangaroos and koalas, and enjoy the many restaurants, shopping precincts and other fun the Gold Coast has to offer.
The crews will remain on the Gold Coast until 24 December before the commencement of the next leg to Singapore.