Liverpool Clipper team celebrate first podium finish

THE crew of Liverpool 2018 competing in the biggest ever Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which left Liverpool’s Albert Dock in August last year, has arrived into Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Australia, in jubilant spirit this morning after claiming their first podium result of the 2017-18 edition.

Skippered by Lance Shepherd, from Blackpool, Liverpool 2018 was the fourth team to cross the finish line of Race 6: The Wondrous Whitsundays Race just off the coast of Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays at 15:51:44 local time (05:51:44 UTC). However, Sanya Serenity Coast, the third team across the line, was handed a six hour time penalty, meaning Liverpool 2018 will officially claim third place on the podium. 

After racing for over eleven days from Hobart, Skipper Lance said of the result: “That was challenging, very challenging, it was a very technical race but it was good, very good!

“Coming into the finish here in the Whitsundays was very tight. It was unbelievably close; the pressure was really on. We were leading for a lot of the race, but then lost a couple of miles to two boats.

“We went into the race with the mentality that we want to win – and we want to win every race in 2018.”

The result comes at halfway through the 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation in one of the most tactical of thirteen individual races to date.

Race 6 presented some of the most varied and dramatic conditions of any Clipper Race stage so far. A tough upwind slog from Tasmania and up the southeast coast of Australia, it included two Southerly Buster storms which bought spectacular lightning storms and gusts of up to 78 knots off the Queensland coast. After taking first place on Day 8, Liverpool 2018 jostled back and forth with Sanya Serenity Coast for the lead for three consecutive days, at times within close sight of each other.  

The Culture Liverpool team has celebrated the achievement, saying: “Since leaving the city’s world-famous Albert Dock back in August, Lance and the team have been showing the world the spirit of Liverpool – getting stuck in and having fun.

“We’ve been watching the crew closely on the Race Viewer and shouting out their success whenever and wherever we can.”

Just last night the team was in sight of race winners, Visit Seattle, but suffered an unfortunate spinnaker drop, which saw it slip down three positions as it pushed for the finish.

The impressive result comes as the team completes Leg 4, the All-Australian Leg, marking the halfway point in the circumnavigation.

Each of the eleven Clipper Race teams will now be heading back to the pink boat’s home port of Albert Dock, Liverpool, when the Clipper Race Finish forms part of the Liverpool 2018 programme of events on 28 July.

The Clipper Race is unique as it is raced by people from all walks of life. In 1996, legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69, founded the race as a way to give everyone, no matter their sailing experience, the chance to become an ocean racer. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up for the 40,000 nautical miles circumnavigation, which is divided into eight legs and features six ocean crossings.

More than 700 people and representing 41 different nationalities are taking part in the eleventh edition of the biennial Clipper Race. They are racing on eleven identical stripped back 70-foot ocean racing yachts, each led by a professional Skipper.

Having already sailed to Punta del Este, Cape Town, Fremantle, Sydney and Hobart, Liverpool 2018 will by flying the flag for the city when the Clipper Race stops in Sanya, Qingdao, Seattle, Panama, New York, and Derry-Londonderry before it competes the eleven-month race in its home port of Liverpool.