Durban claims leg 3 victory of the Clipper Round the World Race

Durban crossed the finished line at 22:54 local time on Friday to claim a magnificent victory on the third leg of the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race in Fremantle, beating rivals Victoria by a mere four miles. The Canadian boat skippered by Ewan Hind has been continually closing the gap on the South Africans for the last week but was beaten to the post after experiencing steering problems on the final day.

After crossing the finish line under a bright full moon and winds of 20kts, Western Australia proved what a welcome host everyone was expecting with a traditional Aussie barbeque and an ice-cold beer awaiting the elated Southern Ocean heroes. Durban sailed across the line in moderately choppy seas in front of the blue-illuminated Maritime Museum where a canon was fired and a flotilla of around 20 boats greeted the South African team who had all donned the Santa Hats presented to them by the children at the Atholl Heights School in Durban.

On leaving Durban, South Africa, the city sponsored boat of the same name took an early lead, which they held for much of this difficult Southern Ocean crossing. Despite these difficult conditions, Durban took just 20 days to get to Fremantle, Western Australia.

Jubilant Durban skipper, Craig Millar said: “It’s been a nerve-wracking last week with Victoria eating in to our lead every day, and when they appeared on the horizon this morning we thought they might just snatch the lead from us at the last moment. We really had to fight for those last few miles.

“A week a go when we had a 70-mile lead we thought we had the race in the bag but after damaging two of our spinnakers we were left with just our heavy-weight for the last few days. As the wind dropped the closer we got to the finish, the rest of the fleet were catching with their bigger sails. It’s a massive relief to be here knowing we managed hold them off for just long enough.”

Despite losing out on the Leg win by a mere 30 minutes, Ewan Hind, skipper of Victoria was magnanimous in defeat saying ‘We were so close this morning, we thought we might just catch them but with the steering going, it put an end to our dreams of a first place. It’s great to get our first podium position, especially in such a tough leg through the Southern Ocean.”

The Canadian boat has seen a marked improvement in form after a disappointing first leg that saw them suffer with steering problems back in late September from Cascais, Portugal. Ewan will be disappointed that a steering problem again ultimately cost them at the end of this leg but the fantastic second place his team achieved will give them great confidence going in to the next race to Singapore.

The next race starts at 0500 hours GMT on Sunday 1 January 2006 where the crew of this 10-yacht race will sprint up the Indian Ocean to the South East Asian island of Singapore.