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The Clipper Race is set to arrive in Newcastle, NSW for the first time in race history

by Clipper Ventures 14 Aug 2023 10:03 BST
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race © Clipper Race

The only event which trains people from all walks of life to become ocean racers, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will be visiting Newcastle, NSW as the first stopover of the Australian Coast-to-Coast leg in 2024 and will be the first time ever that the global sailing event has stopped in this city. The fleet are expected to arrive at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) between 1-4 January 2024, allowing crew and their supporters to celebrate the New Year in Newcastle.

The Clipper Race sees adventurers from diverse backgrounds take on the exceptional challenge of racing across the world's oceans on board a 70ft yacht. Doctors race alongside teachers and tattoo artists, and the intrepid participants can sign up for individual legs, or the full 40,000nm circumnavigation.

Many Race Crew have no prior sailing experience before undertaking the intensive compulsory four-stage training programme and go on to tackle some of the most challenging conditions that Mother Nature can serve up, from freezing temperatures and 40 ft waves to the blistering heat and flat calms of the tropics.

Newcastle will feature as part of the Australian Coast-to-Coast Leg, which will see the crew race from Fremantle to Newcastle, facing the testing conditions of the Roaring Forties, known for its strong winds and huge rolling swells, before docking at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

The NCYC which has grown to be a nationally recognised name in both sailing and sailing development and is no stranger to hosting large sailing events: NCYC was the first Club to win Australian Sailing Club of the Year twice, first in 2019 and again in 2022 and the creators of SailFest, reviving the Newcastle Regatta, one of Australia's oldest regattas. Race Crew, Supporters and Clipper Race staff can expect a warm Aussie welcome, and the opportunity to soak up the region's best beaches, bars and spectacular Hunter Valley wine region which is just a short drive away.

Mark Light, Clipper Race Director, said: "Once the fleet leaves Fremantle, the teams will round one of the great capes of the world, Cape Leeuwin, and experience the Roaring Forties as they blast across the Southern Ocean leaving the great Australian continent to the north. Strong depressions will give tremendous winds and big seas which in turn will create some fantastic downwind surfing conditions for the Clipper 70 Race yachts and their crews. Once around Tasmania, the fleet will head north and do battle with the notorious Bass Strait, forever wary of the weather phenomenon known as the 'Southerly Buster' which is prevalent in these parts, as they head towards the port of Newcastle, NSW for the very first time in Clipper Race history. After a challenging race the crew will be ready to enjoy the amazing beaches, bars and great hospitality that the stopover will offer."

Paul O'Rourke, CEO at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club said: "We are delighted to host the Clipper Race stopover as it will help showcase both the sport of sailing to our city, and our beautiful harbour city to the world."

The 2023-24 edition sees 29 Australian crew members aged between 22 and 69 including an orthopaedic surgeon, an agronomist, and an electrician. Twelve members are from NSW, and seven crew from Australia will be sailing into Newcastle from Fremantle.

The crew from Australia sailing into Newcastle are:

  • Ralph Gunkelman, 48 Orthopaedic Surgeon, NSW
  • Lisa Jude, 44, Senior Commercial Manager, NSW
  • Wayne Sutcliffe, 48, Materials Handling Engineer, Queensland
  • Tim Thomas, 57, Business Owner, Living in Canada
  • Tim Turpin, 59, Semi-Retired, NSW
  • Clare Warburton, 63, Marketing, Australia living in London
  • Richard Wonders, 62, Retired, NSW
Taking eleven months to complete, the Clipper 2023-24 Race will begin from Portsmouth, UK on 3 September 2023. From the UK the fleet will race to Puerto Sherry in Spain, Punta del Este in Uruguay, Cape Town, South Africa and across to Australia, where the teams will visit Fremantle, Newcastle and Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, racing between each destination. The eleven teams will be based in Newcastle from 1 January, and depart the NCYC to race to Airlie Beach, Whitsundays on 10 January.

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