Clipper racers arrive to the Whitsundays in style
A CARNIVAL atmosphere greeted Clipper Around the World yacht race at Abell Point Marina on Tuesday.
Champagne was flowing and music was playing as crews, happy to be back on terra firma, greeted loved ones on the dock.
Visit Seattle, skippered by Nikki Henderson, took line honours in the Wondrous Whitsunday Race which is also the last race in the All Australian Leg of the Clipper Round the World ocean odyssey.
After the race Ms Henderson said the race from Hobart was a difficult one.
"It was very tactical and there were so many different conditions and the strong (East Australian) current coming through it added to the mix," she said.
"It was really challenging tactically and conditions wise we had wind holes, then 50knots, up wind, down winds. We had everything."
The end of the Wondrous Whitsunday Race was delayed due to unfavourable winds and marks the half way point of the Clipper Round the World race.
"It was tough as we were expecting an eight or nine day race and it ended up being a 12 day race.
"Beating up-wind in 40 knots of wind but going four knots in the right direction pretty much sucked."
At just 24 years of age Ms Henderson is the youngest skipper in the Clipper fleet and one of only two female skippers.
"I came into this job for the crew and I enjoy giving people a good time and teaching people how to sail," she said.
As the skipper of Visit Seattle marked the halfway point in its journey, a Whitsunday local having sailed the entire All Australian Leg beginning in Fremantle will now alight from his Clipper 70 for the last time.
Nigel 'Jack' Pemberton, sailing with fleet leader Sanya Serenity Coast, said sailing on a Clipper yacht had been the realisation of a life-long dream.
"It has been an awesome experience," he said. "It has put me way out of my comfort zone and ocean racing is something I have never done before.
"The pinnacle moment was the Sydney to Hobart and coming into Constitution Dock having won line honours.
Mr Pemberton, who goes by the name of Jack when on the water, said Sanya Serenity Coast had battled difficult weather in two of the three races.
Mr Pemberton said he owned a small trimaran and had sailed in the Airlie Beach Race week and at Hamilton Island but nothing could prepare him for a Clipper ocean-going experience.
The Airlie Beach-based enthusiast said the sail was very physically demanding.
"These are very heavy boats and require a lot of work," he said.
"Especially coming up here. We blew two spinnakers out which was a lot of hard work and a lot of effort fix those up.
Mr Pemberton said crewing the boat was a real team effort and he praised the leadership of the only Australian skipper in the fleet Wendy Tuck.
"She yells at us every now and again but she is an awesome skipper," he said.
Leading for most of the race, with a clear advantage heading into the ocean sprint off the Gold Coast, Sanya Serenity Coast crossed the finish line third.
"When that second front came through we were still in the lead Nikki just came flying. I don't know what sails he had up but she was going faster than us and just smashed through us," skipper Wendy Tuck said.
"We were maybe a bit too conservative with our sail choice, maybe we could have put our spinnaker a bit earlier and that is when PSP got through us but that is yacht racing."
Crews will now have the chance to sleep in a bed and recharge the batteries while taking in the best scenery Queensland has to offer before embarking on the second half of the race.