The Derry clipper team was celebrating last night after its first podium finish in the round the world race.
The ecstatic crew, nicknamed the ‘LegenDerrys’ finished in second place while Gold Coast Australia claimed victory in Race 7 after the Race Committee made the decision to shorten the course in the stage from the Gold Coast to Singapore.
Extremely light winds, which would have prevented the race management team from setting a fair course for the second stage of Race 7, combined with an increased threat of piracy in the Singapore Straits in the light conditions over the Chinese New Year, led to the tough decision being taken.
The positions of the yachts at the Celebes Sea Gate, which marked the end of the first phase of the race from Australia, will be taken as the final standings for Race 7.
Race Director, Joff Bailey, told the teams at 7am yesterday: “Race 7 to Celebes Sea Gate from the Gold Coast was certainly long enough at 3,200nm to qualify as a serious race. It was run fairly, you all had chances to make gains and losses and see your tactics play out and I believe it was one of the most interesting races we have run.”
During the race the lead changed hands a number of times as the ten internationally-backed yachts fought for supremacy with Derry-Londonderry, Geraldton Western Australia, and Qingdao all taking their turn to lead the fleet. Gold Coast Australia’s tactic of heading much further north than the other nine teams before hooking in to a favourable current allowed them to swoop into the lead in front of the Derry clipper in the final miles before the Celebes Sea Gate, which later became the Race 7 finish line. In fact the Australians only defeated the Derry-Londonderry into second place by just an hour and 19 minutes, and Geraldton Western Australia claimed third place - three hours and 15 minutes behind the Derry entry. Both teams have recorded their best results of the campaign.
Derry skipper Mark Light said it was a “fantastic result”. I am so proud of each and every one of my crew. We have worked so hard as a team and although a long time coming, we always believed we had a podium finish within us. This gives us huge belief for the next race that we can push on and remain one of the front runners.
“For me personally it is a brilliant result: a very close second place only 80 minutes behind the overall leader. These races are incredibly hard to win and I would like to give massive credit to Gold Coast Australia for another huge result. I will be very proud to lead my team up on to the podium in Singapore to represent the good people of Derry-Londonderry and all who have supported us.”