The Clipper Race Fleet in Airlie Beach in 2018.
The Clipper Race Fleet in Airlie Beach in 2018. Contributed

Clipper series again charts a course to Airlie

FOLLOWING the positive economic impact of its previous visit, the Clipper Round the World yacht race will once again return to Airlie Beach to launch the second Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival.                                             

This will be the third consecutive edition of the Clipper Race to feature the Whitsundays.

The Clipper 2019-20 race fleet and hundreds of its international crew members are due to arrive in early 2020, with the eleven 70-foot ocean racing yachts to be berthed at the Five Gold Anchor Global Accredited and award winning Abell Point Marina - soon to be rebranded to Coral Sea Marina|Resort - at Airlie Beach.

Regarded as one of the toughest challenges on the planet, the Clipper race is the only event which trains everyday people to make six ocean crossings, covering six continents, testing them to their absolute limit. Fewer people have sailed around the world than climbed Mount Everest, and with 40 percent of crew having no previous sailing experience before signing up, the achievement is all the more incredible.

After racing more than 20,000 nautical miles halfway round the globe, the crew will be able to relax and explore the 74 Island wonders of the Whitsundays.

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who last month celebrated 50 years since becoming the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, said he was please Airlie Beach will once again be a host port.

"I look forward to meeting them there,” he said.

"The Whitsundays has been an extremely popular stopover port during the last two editions of the Clipper Race. It is a truly stunning location and a perfect place to really relax and unwind midway through our intense race route.  

"Being a Clipper 2019-20 race host port will enable the Whitsundays region to continue to promote its beautiful surroundings to our global race community. This is a leading sailing destination in the Southern Hemisphere and we can't wait to return.”

The Clipper race crew awarded the keys to the city as part of the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival in 2018.
The Clipper race crew awarded the keys to the city as part of the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival in 2018. Contributed

Other previously confirmed Hosts Ports are Fremantle, Western Australia, along with Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao, China.

Whitsunday Regional Council are excited to welcome back the Clipper 2019-20 race, and will again provide a carnival which will showcase the beauty of the region and its UNESCO World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef on the world stage.

The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival in January 2018 included events such as 'Luxurious White on Whitehaven Lunch' and Crew Parade and Party in Airlie.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the event was a win for the region.

"The event not only attracted visitors to the region, but encouraged participants to extend their stay and explore this beautiful region,” she said.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox is delighted to welcome the world-class series back in 2019.

"The Whitsundays is a match made in heaven to host a leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race,” he said.

"The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival is the ideal opportunity to showcase our stunning natural paradise to the world.

"Where else can you take a scenic flight to Whitehaven Beach, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, take a rainforest Segway tour and attend a rodeo metres from the Coral Sea, all in the same day.”

More than 700 people, representing 44 different nationalities, will be taking part in the Clipper 2019-20 race.

Sixty of the crew are Australian, including 14 Queenslanders.

Also, Canadian Ryan Barkey, 27, who lived in Airlie for the past two years, was inspire to join the race as 'Mate' after watching the Clipper Race yachts arrive at Abell Point Marina in 2018.

"Of all the races, this is the one I most want to win. It was a spectacle seeing the boats arrive through the islands. I'm excited for it to be me on the boats this time,” he said.

"I was only meant to be in Airlie Beach for two months but this turned into two years - it's a place you never what to leave. I can't wait to show my crew, who come from all around the world, what makes the Whitsundays so special.”

The Clipper Race Stopover in the Whitsundays will complete Leg 4, a 3,500 nautical mile race from Fremantle, Western Australia, to Airlie Beach.

For three weeks, the eleven teams will race through through the Southern Ocean, cross the Bass Strait, and navigate the infamous Southerly Busters.

The reward will arriving in the warm, azure waters of the Coral Sea to be greeted by the incredible sight of the Whitsundays.


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WHITSUNDAYS DECIDES 2019: By George he's won it

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