They were hoping to be first, but had to settle for fourth place when Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia’s Masterpiece sailed into home port just before midnight Thursday in Race 11 of the 14-stage Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
But the lone, sleek Canadian hopeful in the 40,000 mile circumnavigation of the world race involving 10 ships is still in the running for top honors when it all ends this July in the United Kingdom.
Overall, Cape Breton Island has scored 87 points to date since the race began last September, good for second spot behind the Spirit of Australia which has accumulated 107 points.
Ruth Cole, a British crew member on board Uniquely Singapore, was behind the Cape Breton Island yacht in fourth place and can’t wait to realize her life-long dream of crossing the unpredictable Atlantic Ocean later this week when Race 12 begins to Ireland.
“I’ve always wanted to race across the Atlantic,” she said as she and other crew members were re-stocking supplies Saturday as curious visitors at the Joan Harriss Pavilion looked on behind the barrier.
The race to Cork will begin in Sydney Harbour Saturday, June 19 at 2 p.m., and is expected to finish about 14 days later – depending on the wind and tides.
The final stages will follow in early July from Ireland and head towards the Netherlands before the 10 yachts see their last port of call and sprint to the finish where the race began last year, in Humber, United Kingdom.
“When we’re in big cities there’s less of a warmer reception but it’s been fantastic here,” she said after arriving early Friday morning. “People have been so nice…people have been genuinely interest in what’s going on which has been lovely.”
Every ocean is different, she said, changing colors and teaming with lots of animals, like flying fish that were literally flying onto the ships.
“You rationally think, fish don’t fly and then, all of a sudden, you’re ducking your head and they are landing on the ship,” she laughed. “You see all different sea life, see all sorts of dolphins and out of South Africa you see a lot of whales and we thought we’d see a lot here too but we didn’t see any coming from New York (the start line of Race 11). You see all different kinds of sea birds and jelly fish, florescent kinds that light up the sea. You see lots of amazing sunsets and sunrises before the moon is up. We’re on a race, but everyone has a chance to take a look.”
Shane Marshall of Sydney was nearby watching the crews and ship dockside near the Big Fiddle, dreaming of the day he might set sail. The only time on board a ship was when he traveled on the ferry to Prince Edward Island.
“It would be interesting to be out there…to test the limits on how long you can be on a boat out there,” he said. “They’re really nice looking boats and it would be so nice to be out on the water, away from civilization, away from the news, with no TV and just out there casting a line.”
New Waterford couple Jennifer and David King thought the same thing as they walked around the dock at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion Saturday under the hot sun.
“It’s neat,” Jennifer King told WGO. “It helps bond all the different places.”
Mr. King said Cape Breton Island couldn’t ask for better advertising around the world too given the beautiful eagle adorning its side. Unlike other nations represented, it’s not so well known around the world.
“It gives people on those ships a different view of the world,” he said. “I can imagine crossing the ocean that they see some rough water. I didn’t know about the race until a few weeks ago and I certainly didn’t know there was a ship for Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I think it’s a great advertisement for this place around the world when it stops in various ports. Many people might look it up and ask where is it, and where is Nova Scotia? So I think it’s so good.”
A week long celebration has been planned for visitors to the ships at the Joan Harriss Pavilion (Big Fiddle) wharf site including concerts, ship tours, demonstration races, aerial displays by the Canadian Sea Hawks over Sydney harbor as well as fireworks in Louisbourg and Sydney and many dockside events, displays, exhibits and games for children.
The Clipper race began in 1995 when Sir Robin Knox-Johnston set up Clipper Ventures after being the first to sail the world non-stop solo. Among the ports of call for entries this year, includes France, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Cape Town, South Africa; Geraldton, W. Australia; Singapore, Qingdao, China; San Francisco, and Jamaica.