Cape Breton Island first into San Fran
Just before midday local time and with the sun breaking through the clouds to herald the yacht’s arrival, the eagle of Cape Breton Island came swooping under the Golden Gate Bridge as the Canadian entry arrived victorious in to San Francisco. With their spinnaker billowing out before them, the team, which promotes the Canadian Island of Cape Breton as ‘Nova Scotia’s Masterpiece’, has claimed their second line honours of the 35,000-mile Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race, crossing the Noonday Rock finish line near the North Farallone Islands at 0725 local time (1425 GMT).
Skipper Jan Ridd, who hails from Dorset in the UK, has done an exemplary job in leading his team of non-professional sailors, representing all walks of life, across the largest ocean on the planet.
“I’m relieved to be here as it was a long and hard race,” says Jan. “Coming into San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge was an amazing arrival and we’re all feeling extremely happy right now.
“The hardest part of the race for me personally wasn’t the Pacific crossing but sailing through the Yellow Sea. The water was relatively shallow, there was lots of shipping and some crazy fishermen! Once we’d past Japan, we then had our first storm which tested the crew and gave them a taste of what was to come.
“After a couple of days respite a massive depression then formed behind us. Fortunately we were far enough ahead to outrun the worst of it – although some of the other teams weren’t so lucky and consequently suffered a fair amount of damage.
“We still had three or four days of very heavy weather with winds reaching 60 to 70 knots but luckily managed to come out the other side with very little damage. Most of the crew felt confident in the boat and the way they were sailing and didn’t feel scared, even though they were regularly getting knocked over by waves crashing across the decks every ten minutes.
“The last couple of days have provided some fantastic sailing conditions and we’ve had a great run into San Francisco.”
Cape Breton Island finishes Race 7 from Qingdao, China, more than 500 nautical miles ahead of their nearest competitors, with Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Qingdao currently fighting it out to be second over the line. Jamaica Lightning Bolt has been awarded a redress of 32 hours 15 minutes by the Race Committee for the assistance they gave to California, after the team lost their mast 20 days into the North Pacific leg. Once deducted from their finish time the Caribbean entry stands a good chance of denying the Chinese team their best result of the race so far.
It has certainly been an eventful and challenging race for all the crews taking part and Cape Breton Island resident and round the world crew member, Elisa Jenkins, summed it up saying, “Despite being the most bitter cold and wet conditions I have ever sailed in, it has actually been one of my most enjoyable legs so far. I think it’s because it was so challenging and that’s why we’re here. We certainly faced every type of weather you can imagine out there and seen some of the worst seas that we’ve seen in the entire Clipper Race. I therefore feel a huge sense of accomplishment for having completed this leg.”
The 31-year-old physiotherapist went on to say, “We’re all really pleased to be here. As you know we’re a few hundred miles ahead of the rest of the fleet and we are missing the competition and the rivalry of having them here with us. Although we are happy to be here we are still thinking of our comrades who are out at sea right now and hope that the remainder of their race is a safe one.”
Cape Breton Island has been entered into Clipper 09-10 to raise the profile of this part of north east Canada – voted one of the world’s most beautiful islands by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine. The aim is not only to boost tourism, but also to promote trade opportunities including local seafood, to attract students to Cape Breton University and to promote immigration to the island. Next week a large delegation from Cape Breton Island will be in the Bay area for several days alongside the Clipper Race stopover, showcasing leading hi-tech and innovative businesses, as well as sharing some home grown musical talent and famous Atlantic Canada seafood at a special reception to be held at the Golden Gate Yacht Club. Guests will also get a chance to sail on board Cape Breton Island.
The Clipper 09-10 Race started from the Humber on the north east coast of England on 13 September 2009 and will return to there on 17 July 2010. It is the only event in the world where people from all walks of life can take on the challenge of a lifetime and race around the globe on stripped down 68-foot ocean racing yachts.