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Newcastle plans rockstar welcome for Clipper stopover

by Mark Rothfield 12 Dec 2023 06:46 GMT
Clipper Race Dare to Lead © Clipper Race

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) will be pulling out all the stops to ensure its 2023-24 Clipper Round the World stopover will be memorable for crews, supporters and spectators alike when the fleet arrives in early January.

Australia gets three bites of the cherry with the endurance race, Fremantle and Airlie Beach also gaining hosting rights, however it's the biggest international yachting event to visit NSW's second largest city.

Over 200 competitors, along with officials, family members and sponsors, will be warmly welcomed by the club, with the arrival window predicted to be January 1-4. They will enjoy an Outriggers Day, Historical Tours, Food and Wine tours and the chance to go surfing. As part of their environmental commitment the crews will undertake a clean-up of the harbour foreshore.

Activities will be centred in a marquee at NCYC, right on Newcastle Harbour and in front of the berths. Community members from far and wide will be encouraged to visit a 'FanZone' on January 6-7 where they can inspect the boats and learn about the event.

TrySailing days and demonstrations will be conducted, and stopover supporter City of Newcastle will operate a Visitor Information Booth from January 3-10.

The 11 race syndicates are currently completing the challenging 5500nm (8900km) Cape Town-Fremantle leg, three yachts having already finished.

Leg 4 will start on December 19 and take them across the Great Australian Bight, dipping below the 40th Parallel, before rounding the southern tip of Tasmania and heading to Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club. At approximately 2900nm, the distance is more than four times longer than the Sydney Hobart.

The teams will also have time to rest and prepare for the January 10 in-harbour restart, bound for the Whitsundays then Vietnam and China beyond that. Each yacht will be assigned two volunteers to serve as their local concierge, helping them source provisions, effect repairs and be the first point of contact during the visit.

Newcastle yachtswoman Bronwen Crosby will be an interested spectator as she prepares to join the Zhuhai entry for the Whitsundays to Vietnam-China leg. A graduate of NCYC's sail training academy and the She Sails program, Bronwen completed her obligatory month-long training in the UK prior to the start. It will be her longest offshore race to date.

"I've done lots of hikes, climbed Kilimanjaro, so this will be another great adventure," she says.

At a record-breaking 40,000nm (74,080km) the Clipper Race is one of the toughest aquatic marathons in the world, especially since the crews are amateurs who pay for the experience aboard the 70ft ocean racing yachts.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, a two-time winner of Australian Sailing's Club of the Year award, is no stranger to hosting major events. In April its annual SailFest Newcastle Regatta will incorporate the 2024 Australian Yachting Championships - the second time the club has staged the national title.

The Clipper Round the World Race, however, has a huge global following that will put Newcastle Harbour on the international sporting map. The Race restart is scheduled for January 10 at 3pm off Queens Wharf inside the Harbour, with the Fort Scratchley cannon to thunderously fire.

Details at

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