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Newcastle plans rockstar welcome for Clipper stopover


Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club (NCYC) will pull out all the stops to ensure its 2023-24 Clipper Round the World stopover will be a memorable one.

Crews, supporters and spectators alike are expected to converge when the fleet arrives in early January.

Australia gets three bites of the cherry with the endurance race, with Fremantle and Airlie Beach also gaining hosting rights.

However, it’s the biggest international yachting event to visit NSW’s second largest city.

More than 200 competitors, along with officials, family members and sponsors, will be warmly welcomed by NCYC, with the arrival window predicted to be 1-4 January.

They’ll enjoy an Outriggers Day, historical tours, food and wine excursions and the chance to go surfing.

As part of their environmental commitment, the crews will undertake a clean-up of the harbour foreshore, too.

Activities will be centred in a marquee at NCYC, right on Newcastle Harbour and in front of the berths.

Residents from far and wide are encouraged to visit a ‘FanZone’ on 6-7 January where they can inspect the boats and learn about the event.

TrySailing days and demonstrations will be conducted, and stopover supporter City of Newcastle will operate a Visitor Information Booth from 3-10 January.

The 11 race syndicates are currently completing the challenging 5500nm (8900km) Cape Town-Fremantle leg.

The fourth stage starts on 19 December and takes them across the Great Australian Bight, dipping below the 40th Parallel, before rounding the southern tip of Tasmania and heading to Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

At approximately 2900nm, the distance is more than four times longer than the Sydney to Hobart.

The teams will also have time to rest and prepare for the 10 January in-harbour restart, bound for the Whitsundays then Vietnam and China beyond that.

Each yacht is assigned two volunteers to serve as their local concierge, helping them source provisions, effect repairs and be the first point of contact during the visit.

Newcastle yachtswoman Bronwen Crosby will be an interested spectator as she prepares to join the Zhuhai entry for the Whitsundays to Vietnam-China leg.

A graduate of NCYC’s sail training academy and the She Sails program, she completed her obligatory month-long training in the UK prior to the start.

But, it’ll be her longest offshore race to date.

“I’ve done lots of hikes, climbed Kilimanjaro, so this will be another great adventure,” she says.

At a record-breaking 40,000nm (74,080km), the Clipper Race is one of the toughest aquatic marathons in the world, especially since the crews are amateurs who pay for the experience aboard the 70ft ocean racing yachts.

Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club, a two-time winner of Australian Sailing’s Club of the Year award, is no stranger to hosting major events.

In April, its annual SailFest Newcastle Regatta will incorporate the 2024 Australian Yachting Championships – the second time the organisation has staged the national title.

The Clipper Round the World Race, however, has a huge global following that will put Newcastle Harbour on the international sporting map.

The restart is scheduled for 10 January at 3pm off Queens Wharf, with the Fort Scratchley cannon to thunderously fire.

  • Mark Rothfield

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