Non-Professional sailors circumnavigating the globe arrive in Newcastle, New South Wales

Over 200 sailors have arrived in Newcastle, New South Wales as part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Split into 14 races across the 40,000nm circumnavigation, the arrival into Newcastle marks the end of Race 5: Sta-Lok Endurance Test for the intrepid crew. Endurance by name, endurance by nature, the race has proved to be just that, as the fleet of eleven faced a cocktail of challenging conditions as it made the 2,500nm voyage from Fremantle, Western Australia to Newcastle, New South Wales.

A new stop on the race’s global route, it was a warm welcome from the hosting Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club as crews arrived in port and left their yachts for the first time in over two weeks, having spent Christmas and New Year at sea with their boat family.

A real mental and physical challenge, the race saw the fleet dip further south than at any other point of the circumnavigation. The teams arrived in NSW having rounded Tasmania and giving the crew another taste of the Roaring Forties.

Sailing into first place, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam doubled down on the top spot as it gained its second consecutive win of this race edition. The team crossed the Finish Line, placed just outside of Newcastle harbour, at 03:26:50 LT, 16:26:50 UTC on 2 January 2024.

Maintaining a strong position in the standings throughout, the team started out jostling between fourth and fifth place, before accelerating to become a front runner about a third of the way into the race. As the fleet rounded Tasmania, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam consolidated a lead, which it managed to keep until the Finish Line.

On the pressure of holding onto first place, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper, Josh Stickland said: “Staying in second place is a lot less stress, but we are chuffed to be in first place. We were lucky, as we had a sizeable chunk to lose, around 60-80 miles. So, we knew we could take our time with a few things, and not push quite as hard.” 

Taking the remaining podium placings were Dare To Lead, skippered by South African Ryan Gibson, and Chinese team entry Zhuhai skippered by James Finney. The duo battled it out throughout the 16 day race, with both teams taking the lead positions at points. But it was Dare To Lead who jumped from third to second place as the team sailed around the southern tip of Australia’s island state and clung on to the second place spot.

Full Race 5 Results:

1stHa Long Bay, Viet Nam – 11

2ndDare to Lead – 10

3rdZhuhai – 9

4thBekezela – 8

5thUNICEF – 7

6thPerseverance – 6

7thQingdao – 5

8thPSP Logistics – 4

9thOur Isles and Oceans – 3

10thWashington, DC – 2

11thYacht Club Punta del Este – 1

The final of the fleet, Yacht Club Punta del Este, sailed into port at sunrise in time for the hotly anticipated Prizegiving ceremony. With the leader board updated and the winners of the bonus points up for grabs from the Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint revealed, it was the perfect celebration of a tough race for crew.

Only two teams took the gamble for the Scoring Gate, a line between two virtual marks on the race route which teams can choose to pass through, gaining Qingdao an extra three points and Perseverance two. The winners of the Ocean Sprint, a time trial between two lines of longitude or two lines of latitude, are only announced during the Prizegiving ceremony, with Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam scooping the top three points, Dare To Lead two, and Bekezela one point for the speediest passage through this races course.

The Race Standings so far see Dare To Lead remain in the top spot with 63 points, with Perseverance and Zhuhai taking second and third respectively. The full leader board can be seen here.

The Clipper Race got underway from Portsmouth, UK in September, and so far on this edition, its fleet has sailed over 17,000 nautical miles, having already visited Puerto Sherry, Spain, Punta del Este, Uruguay and Cape Town, South Africa. Departing stop number four, Fremantle, in mid-December, the teams have race around Australia to Newcastle and will continue on to Airlie Beach. It will then head to Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Qingdao and Zhuhai – China, and cross the North Pacific Ocean to Seattle and around the USA to Washington, DC, before returning to Portsmouth at the end of July 2024, via Oban, Scotland.  

More news from All At Sea