History has been made as Australian Sailor Wendy Tuck becomes the first woman to ever win an around the world yacht race after clinching the overall victory in the Clipper 2017-18 Race.
And in an additional win for women’s sport, second place went to British Sailor Skipper Nikki Henderson, 25, the Skipper of Visit Seattle.
Wendy and her Sanya Serenity Coast team went into the thirteenth and final race of the Clipper 2017-18 Race on top of the overall standings and have done enough to put the result out of reach for the other ten teams ahead of the sprint finish up the Mersey to Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, UK.
Wendy, 53, from Sydney, said: “I can’t believe it. It hasn’t really sunk in really but I am just so happy. It is so, so special.
“I don’t think it’s about being a woman. It’s just ‘I do what I do’. But I am very proud and even prouder of my team. They are the ones that did all the work and considering many had never sailed before, what they have accomplished is incredible.”
It was a battle to see who would seal the win – Wendy or Nikki Henderson, the youngest ever Clipper Race Skipper. Despite Visit Seattle playing its Joker Card (a device which doubles the race points earned), Nikki Henderson fell just short of the overall win but her four podiums over the last year meant she and her team will take second place overall, despite the results of Saturday’s sprint.
Visit Seattle Skipper Nikki Henderson said: “Congratulations to Wendy and her team – you were just too quick for us!
“We didn’t get the win but I am so proud of how my team dug deep and kept fighting right until the end. No matter how hard it got, they turned up on deck ready to work and deserve every bit of this success in coming second.
“It will take a bit for it all to sink in. We still have one last sprint to go on Saturday and we will be sailing with style right until the very end.”
Delighted with the female one-two finish, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, said: “There’s never been a race, around the world race, where you’ve had the two leading Skippers both be women. This is a first. And when you look at what they are racing against, the experience of the other Clipper Race Skippers, you realise that this is really very special.
“The impact of the success of both Wendy and Nikki cannot be underestimated. If this gets even one more girl start sailing and dreaming big, then I’ll consider everything we have done over the last eleven months a huge success.”
The other Chinese Clipper Race entry, Qingdao, won Race 13, the final stage of the Clipper Race from Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool, crossing the line at 10:04:04 UTC on Friday 27 July to finish 28 minutes ahead of the second-placed Liverpool 2018, whilst Garmin was third.
Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch says: “It has been a fantastic race and I am extremely happy and proud of the effort my team has put in.
“To be able to not only secure the Race 13 victory but also guarantee our Race Team Partner Qingdao its first ever overall podium is extremely satisfying. The entire team has been working towards this goal for the past year and it is amazing to realise that we have done it.”
This is the fourth podium of the 2017-18 series for Qingdao and the second win after the team previously claimed victory in Race 9 across the mighty North Pacific from Qingdao to Seattle. Qingdao has also been the champion of the Scoring Gate, with the team collecting a fleet high 19 bonus points from Scoring Gates.
Although podium positions have been decided, bonus race points will be awarded to the first three teams that cross the sprint finish line off Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, where they are expected to arrive between 0930 and 1000 tomorrow morning, Saturday 28 July.
The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains non-professionals to be ocean-faring sailors. Established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world, 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up and undergoing the compulsory four weeks of training.
In total, 712 people representing 41 different nationalities and from all walks of life have taken part in the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper 2017-18 Race, the event’s eleventh edition.
Sailing fans around the world can tune in live to watch the Clipper Race fleet compete in the exciting river sprint tomorrow via the Clipper Race website: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/livestream