The Western Australian yacht westernaustralia.com has won the first leg of the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race.
Tourism Minister Mark McGowan said the win was great news for WA, which had purchased naming rights for the yacht and would host the race over Christmas and New Year at Fremantle.
Mr McGowan said the 3,500 mile transatlantic crossing had taken 20 days to complete and the skipper and crew were looking forward to some fresh fruit and vegetables after eating two-minute noodles for days.
“The crew are now celebrating in Salvador, Brazil, with chilled caipirinhas, music and a spectacular fireworks display lighting up the harbour,” he said.
“Their celebrations are well-deserved and I congratulate them on their win.
“It was a close battle for first place, with Liverpool 08 coming in just one hour and 24 minutes after the Australians to take second place, pipping the Cardiff Clipper by just three minutes.”
Mr McGowan said the transatlantic crossing was deemed one of the most important races of the seven-leg, round the world yacht race and marked the first stop in the southern hemisphere.
“It is the first big test for the amateur crew of the ten-yacht fleet, coping with extremely changeable conditions from the frustrating calm of the Doldrums to the unpredictable squalls in the approach to the Equator,” he said.
“westernaustralia.com maintained a consistently good performance since the start in Liverpool, UK, on September 18, and took second place in the first race to Cascais, Portugal.
“This win sees them take the overall lead.”
Skipper David Pryce said, "We have been challenged by the other yachts at every step of the 3500 miles.
“I think I ground a couple of my teeth away last night worrying that Liverpool and Cardiff, just a breath away, would overtake in the fluctuating conditions so crossing the finish line in Salvador has been with both disbelief and relief!"
The yachts leave for the second leg on October 25 in the race for Durban, where they will face the challenge of the southern Atlantic weather systems followed by the treacherous seas around the Cape of Good Hope.
The yachts will visit 12 international ports - including Durban (South Africa), Fremantle (WA), Singapore, Qingdao (China), Victoria (Canada) and New York (US) - before the race reaches a thrilling climax in Liverpool in July 2006.
The Gallop Government has committed $960,000 towards the event, which is expected to bring in at least $2million to the WA economy.
Minister’s office: 9222 9111