The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race came to an exciting end on Sunday as thousands gathered to watch the fleet’s arrival in Southampton.
Gold Coast Australia secured the overall win, as the non-professional crews onboard all 10 ocean racing yachts - including the Derry-Londonderry boat - marked the end of a 40,000 mile challenge of a lifetime.
After 51 weeks of ocean racing, Gold Coast Australia took first place, Visit Finland finished in second, while a battle towards the end saw Singapore pip Dutch entry De Lage Landen to the post for the third and final podium position by finishing 20 seconds earlier.
The fleet crossed the final finish line of Race 15 on Sunday morning where race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, led a parade of sail in Southampton Water to welcome back the fleet of ten identical 68-foot racing yachts.
Tasmanian skipper Richard Hewson and his crew proudly stood on the bow of Gold Coast Australia as thousands of people applauded the victorious Australian team.
“‘It has been an amazing adventure,” he said. “From the start we’ve had plans to dominate the race and we’ve definitely done that.”
While Gold Coast Australia led most of the race securing a podium place in all 15 races, its nine competitors remained close throughout. Visit Finland skippered by Olly Osborne kept in a firm second. Further down the leader board it remained very close between a number of the boats.
Derry-Londonderry skipper Mark Light described the challenge as “51 weeks, one amazing year and so many fantastic experiences.”
He added: “It was very surreal to be back and we had a fantastic day for it. There are a lot of very proud people on Derry-Londonderry and for very good reason. We have all worked tremendously hard to get here and endured, experienced and enjoyed so many fantastic moments that will live long in our memories.”
All day, tens of thousands of people lined the dockside of Ocean Village marina in Southampton to welcome home the crews after a gruelling year-long challenge that has seen them take on the world’s largest and most formidable oceans, endured violent storms and frustrating calms, extreme heat and bone-numbing cold while racing ferociously to win.
Already, a brand new fleet of twelve identical 70-foot racing yachts are being lined up for the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Challenge.