THE gruelling Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has made port in Fremantle.
Eight of the fleet’s eleven boats dropped anchor in the city this week, while the remainder are due next week after departing Cape Town on November 17.
The 12th Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is an 11-month, 64,000km showdown at sea, crewed by over 200 mostly ‘non-professional’ sailors. Participants complete either individual legs or a full eight-leg circumnavigation on 12 specially-prepared identical yachts, all named for tourism destinations plus one called UNICEF which was donated by the organisers.
Participating sailors pay nearly $10,000 per leg, plus the same again for four weeks of training in London intended to prepare them for freezing 80kmh winds and “waves as tall as apartment blocks”.
Among the 200 are 16 Australians, including 34-year-old Mount Lawley mining executive Kate Holling who has just completed the third leg before returning to WA.
“It was absolutely fantastic to sail home. It was about midnight and we could see the stern lights of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam ahead of us and the loom of the lighthouse on Rottnest Island…seeing the glow of Fremantle was awesome,” she said, as her boat Imagine your Korea finished third in the leg.
“We had dolphins, whales, albatross, amazing bird life and just the skies and seas were out of this world,” she said.
The race is not without its danger, and three people have so far lost their lives participating since the inaugural 1996 race, while 2016 racers discovered a ‘ghost yacht’ with the mummified corpse of missing German sailor Manfred Fritz Bajorat preserved on-board.