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Uruguayan skipper wins race across the Atlantic into hometown of Punta del Este

by Clipper Race 12 Oct 2023 19:15 BST
Yacht Club Punta Del Este arrive in Uruguay © Clipper Race

Yacht Club Punta del Este has been crowned the winning team of the Clipper Race 2: Hundred Years Cup.

The Uruguayan team entry, representing the Yacht Club Punta del Este, triumphantly sailed into its home port having taken the win of the 5,300 nautical mile race across the Atlantic from Puerto Sherry, Spain to Uruguay. This is the first time in a decade that a Clipper Round the World Yacht Race home boat has won into its own port.*

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is known to be one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, taking almost a year to complete its 40,000nm full circumnavigation. The arrival into Uruguay marks the end of the first stage of the eight-leg competition.

Race 2 saw the fleet of eleven matched racing yachts tackle its first major ocean crossing. The North to South Atlantic passage - which has taken over 26 days to complete- is notorious for its testing and varied conditions, challenging even the most experienced of sailors.

After a nail-biting finish, the teams placing in the top three are:

In first place, Yacht Club Punta Del Este who crossed the finish line at 1943:40 LT 2243:40?UTC (11 October 2023)

Taking second place, Perseverance, who crossed the finish line at 0115:52LT 0415:52?UTC (12 October 2023)

And in third place, PSP Logistics, who crossed the finish line at 0618:38 LT 0918:38?UTC (12 October 2023)

This edition features over 700 people, representing 55 nationalities and many diverse walks of life including electricians, orthopaedic surgeons, police sergeants and teachers. 22 percent of the crew had never sailed before signing up to the challenge as a mandatory and intensive four stages of training is provided. Each team is led by a professional Skipper and First Mate.

At the helm of the winning team is 33-year-old Uruguayan Race Skipper Nano Antia Bernardez, who made an emotional homecoming into Punta del Este. Raised in the town, Nano said that sailing was part of his city's blood - and part of his, too.

Nano, alongside First Mate Angus Whitehead, have navigated the route with tactics, nerve and skill, determined from the off to be the first to cross the Finish Line.?

Race 2: Hundred Years Cup has graced the fleet with north-east trade winds, and consistent downwind runs, flat calms and sticky heat in the equator, and the vicious unpredictable squalls of the Pamperos weather front, making the race to Punta del Este a real risk and reward balancing act.

Before the race began, Nano said "It is so special to be in this race representing my own hometown. Knowing that my family, and all my nieces and nephews are going to be there, it's really emotional. It gets under my skin just thinking about it.

"The motivation of representing Yacht Club Punta del Este, while sailing to my home, it's just going to be such a boost to our energy, it's going to be amazing."

Nano, Angus and the Yacht Club Punta del Este team arrived in Punta del Este to huge crowds of locals, supporters and members of the city's yacht club, lining the breakwater and cheering in the hometown heroes.

Congratulating the team on its win, Juan Etcheverrito, Commodore of Yacht Club Punta Del Este said "We couldn't ask for more! What an entrance, a 100 years one! We are so happy; we are lost for words. VAMOS!"

As he arrived into port, Nano said: "Every day, the crew have been pushing their limits, getting out of their comfort zones. I've been teaching them the details, and they are a really, really special crew. We have kept the pressure on from Puerto Sherry to Cape Verde, across the Atlantic and then all the way to here!??

"The other teams made me so nervous! I felt a lot of pressure sometimes, as I thought they were going to take out my dream! But I have so much respect for Perseverance, they were racing so well and really going for it. It is really amazing having super competitive teams around, it's making the race so enjoyable."?

Nano has sailed into his hometown three times on the Clipper Race, as crew twice, and now as a Skipper. He said: "I wanted to arrive fast! Arriving in Punta the first time [2017-28 edition] was the first time I had done an ocean crossing, and now as a Skipper and the winner of this race- just seeing my crew enjoying themselves, that is all that I needed. To see so many people waiting here to give me a hug was amazing. I feel privileged to have so many friends here."

Clipper Race Director Mark Light said "Nano joined the Clipper Race about seven years ago, and it was where he pretty much learnt to sail. He joined the 2017-18 edition as crew, and I knew from the minute he turned up to training he had the mentality of 'if I'm going to take on this race, I'm going to take on the whole thing'.

"At that point he became the first Uruguayan to circumnavigate with the Clipper Race, and everyone knew he was really standing out, he had the desire to go further. Nano excels with his energy, his resilience and his ability to get on with people, and to motivate and lead.

"A very well-earned win on the racetrack, and we're glad to have him on board as one of our Skippers."

Speaking on arrival into Punta del Este, second placed Perseverance Skipper, Ineke van der Weijden said "I am incredibly happy. It's been a great race. We had PSP Logistics on our heels so that has kept us on our toes. A great race being so close together, it meant we kept pushing each other along.

"Yacht Club Punta del Este was always going to push really hard to come into its hometown, and good for them, I am super happy for them."

Yacht Club Punta del Este topped the leader board after Race 1, where it placed second but scooped three extra points for being the only team to tackle the Scoring Gate. The team has now maintained its place at the top after being the first to cross the line into Punta del Este and picking up an extra point earlier in Race 2 when it placed third in the Scoring Gate.

It's now a waiting game to see if the team can push further into the lead when the results of the Ocean Sprint are announced on Monday (16 October) at the Race 2: Hundred Years Cup Prizegiving ceremony.

Until then, Clipper Race Crew can relax and unwind as they enjoy a fiesta of activity at Host Port Yacht Club Punta Del Este, who is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. ?

Following the stopover in Punta Del Este, the fleet will continue its circumnavigation on Leg 2 as it races the 3,555 nautical miles to Cape Town, South Africa, a destination making its eleventh appearance on the Clipper Race circuit.

It will then head to Fremantle, Newcastle and Airlie Beach - Australia, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Qingdao and Zhuhai - China, Seattle and Washington, DC - USA, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July, 2024, via Oban, Scotland.

*The last time a home boat won into its own port on the Clipper Race was on the 2013-14 edition. The Derry-Londonderry-Doire entry skippered by local Sean McCarter win the race from New York to Derry~Londonderry?in June 2014.

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