SPORT ? A day of high emotion as Cape Breton Island takes line honours


Batam, Indonesia, January 17: It has been a day of high emotion at Nongsa Point Marina as a jubilant Cape Breton Island 

crew arrived after taking line honours in Race 5, while eight
Cork crew members who transferred to California when their yacht ran aground in the Java Sea on Wednesday night reached port, some in tears and all exhausted and running on adrenaline.

Cape Breton Island, led by Dorset, UK, based skipper, Jan Ridd, crossed the finish line in the Singapore Straits at 0914 local time (0214 UTC) on Sunday. They beat Spirit of Australia by just 15 minutes. Jamaica Lightning Bolt was third to cross the line at 1259 local time (0559 UTC).

As he arrived at the marina in Batam, Indonesia, the rallying point for the fleet ahead of the arrival at Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, next Saturday, Ridd paid tribute to his crew, saying, “It’s been a long time coming — we’ve worked really hard on all the legs. We think we deserve this; we’ve sailed as hard as we can. It was a really close battle in the end but we’re over the moon now.

“It was very nip and tuck at the end; we took one long tack to come back through and clear the headland, we could see Spirit of Australia coming at us and we really didn’t know if we were going to get ahead of them,” he said.

There was a lot of tension on board in the final stages of the race, according to Ridd: “I don’t think many people slept last night — they were coming off watch and couldn’t go to sleep, they just needed to know what was going on.”

Spirit of Australia, led by Brisbane skipper, Brendan Hall, completed the race in the Singapore Straits at 0929 local time (0229 UTC).

As he arrived at Nongsa Point Marina, Hall explained just how close the two teams got as they had closed a 20nm gap overnight.

“We were blow for blow with
Cape Breton Island
right up to the end — it was nail biting stuff for the crew and for their crew and when we met them here on the pontoon they said we had them really worried. And whether you come first or second in that kind of duel you know you’re alive and you know you love sailing when you’re engaged in something like that.

“We do seem to have a knack for finishing a very short distance behind people. That said we got three points at the scoring gate and took 12 points out of a possible 13 so we really couldn’t ask for a better result than that and I’m over the moon,” he said.

Race 5, from Geraldton, Western Australia to Singapore began on 3 January and the course has delivered some of the most challenging conditions to date for the crews, all of whom have put their normal lives on hold to take part in the Clipper Race, whether for a single leg, or for the whole of the ten-month, 35,000-mile race.

During the race Cork, one of the ten 68-foot ocean racing yachts, hit a submerged reef and the crew were taken on board two of the other boats, California and Team Finland. Qingdao and
Edinburgh Inspiring Capitalwere also involved in the operation, as well as Uniquely Singapore and Hull & Humber, who stood by to offer assistance if required.

As a number of teams suspended racing during the incident, the final results will be subject to ratification once all the skippers’ declarations have been received by the Race Committee before being confirmed.

Brendan says, “The Cork incident affected everybody on board – from when I read the email out to the crew it really just hit home and for the next half hour everyone was in shock and the racing and the points we were striving towards just really paled into insignificance against what had happened to them and our worry for them.”

California and her precious cargo crossed the finish line for Race 5 at 1721 local time (1021 GMT) and joined Cape Breton Island, Spirit of Australia and Jamaica Lightning Bolt to wait for the rest of the fleet before all nine boats head to Marina at Keppel Bay on Saturday, January 23.

The next few days will allow the Cork crew to rest and begin to come to terms with their experience.

California’s skipper, Pete Rollason said, “The last few days have been tough. Twenty-three people onboard in this heat has been a bit unbearable, but they’ve been through a hell of an ordeal and it’s just great to be here now, everybody home and safe.

“The crew were fantastic. They all looked through their bags, found their spare clothes so at least the Cork guys had dry clothes. We had plenty of food because we’d shopped for the race to Qingdao already so that wasn’t a problem.

“I think it would be fair to say everybody went through some emotion, myself included. The first night when we started sailing away from there we were still racing at that point — and racing hard — and I noticed some of the Cork guys found that very difficult so we backed off big time and slowed things down to make it comfortable onboard.”

Cork crew member, Keith Hale said: “I’m not sure we’ve come to terms yet with what has happened. The California crew have looked after us brilliantly, lending us clothes and making sure we were fed. As soon as we got on the boat they had tea, coffee and biscuits waiting for us.”

Race 5, from Geraldton, Western Australia, to Singapore began on January 3 and the course has delivered some of the most challenging conditions to date for the crews, all of whom have put their normal lives on hold to take part in the Clipper Race, whether for a single leg or for the whole of the ten-month, 35,000nm race.

As a number of teams suspended racing during the incident the final results will be subject to ratification once all the skippers’ declarations have been received by the Race Committee before being confirmed. Qingdao and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital were also involved in the operation, as well as Uniquely Singapore and Hull & Humber, who stood by to offer assistance if required.

The fleet will arrive at Marina at Keppel Bay, owned by Uniquely Singapore team sponsor, Keppel Corporation, at 10am on Saturday, January 23. Guest of honour at the colourful ceremony will be Singapore’s Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong, who named Uniquely Singapore when she was launched ahead of the Clipper 05-06 Race.

“The international following and goodwill that the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race continues to generate will help promote Singapore as Asia’s destination to live, work and play,” said Wang Look Fung, general manager of Group Corporate Communications, Keppel Corporation Limited.

“Keppel is happy to contribute to the vibrancy of this southern waterfront with such international events at the Marina at Keppel Bay on Keppel Island,” she said.

Rostam Umar, executive director of Communications and Human Resources and Organisational Development at Singapore Tourism Board, Uniquely Singapore’s team partner, said: “We welcome the crew members of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to Singapore. We see the race as a platform to showcase Singapore as a destination for international sporting events and where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy many exciting leisure experiences. Events such as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race strengthen Singapore’s image as one of Asia’s leading entertainment capitals with a diverse calendar of events year round.”

Meanwhile, following Cork’s collision with a reef off Indonesia week, the team at Clipper Ventures has been working closely with marine salvage experts and insurance assessors to understand whether the racing yacht is recoverable. After reviewing extensive material, which includes video and digital images of the damage, reading reports sent from a number of qualified sources, getting hourly updates from the other Clipper yachts at the scene and discussing the options with a broad range of experts, there is clearly only one option open to the race organisers.

The surveyors and salvage experts advise that the boat is now so weakened by the pounding she has taken on the reef, the collective view is that she would not survive being dragged off the shelf, made buoyant and then complete the 450nm tow to Singapore. Even if this were possible, the extent of the damage means that she would be beyond economic repair.

As such, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of Clipper Venture the organisers of Clipper 09-10, said, “It is with very great sadness that we have to accept that
Cork Clipper
will remain on the reef as we lose her to the sea. This is the first loss Clipper has experienced in seven races and since the first race in 1996, more than two million miles of racing has been safely and successfully completed. Clipper accepts the surveyors’ practical opinion and I’d like to thank all of those who have assisted in our rescue efforts over the last couple of days.”

Sir Robin went on to pay tribute to the skippers and crew of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race saying, “On a personal note I have been very warmed and proud of the reaction and support of the crews, and of the skippers on site. They have performed splendidly and shown great seamanship.”

His comments echo those from many sources around the world who have been quick to praise the level of training and the professionalism shown in the aftermath of the incident. All the crew are safe and in the last few days, all personal possessions have been taken off Cork and will be reunited with their crew when the yachts arrive in Singapore.

Clipper Ventures has made racing berths available for the Cork crew when the nine boat fleet departs to Qingdao and then on to California. The company is also looking at options on providing a replacement boat so that the Cork colours can once again take to the sea in the later legs of the 09-10 race. Further announcements on this will be made in due course.

The Clipper 09-10 Race started from the Humber on the northeast coast of England on September 13, 2009, and will return to there on July 17, 2010. It is the only event in the world where people from all walks of life can take on the challenge of a lifetime and race around the globe on stripped down 68-foot ocean racing yachts.