Emotional Homecoming for Sydney Sailors in Clipper Round the World Race

It is a moment in time that will be etched forever in the memories of Josephine Martin and her family.

After sailing more than 2150 nautical miles across the bottom of Australia from Albany, Western Australia, battling huge seas in the Southern Ocean, and beating their way up the east coast, the amateur sailor and her 22 crew finally made it through the Sydney Heads on Saturday.

They are on Team Garmin, one of 12 70-foot boats vying for overall honors in the Clipper Round the World yacht race.

“It was an amazing feeling to finally make it across the Heads. It was also full of drama as we turned into the strong southerly and had to beat into the headwind,” Ms. Martin said.

The sailors were met by delighted friends and family amid blustery southerly gusts on the busy dock of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Rushcutters Bay.

Ms. Martin, 65, a retired university lecturer from Adelaide, was hugged by her daughter, Julia Maguire, who lives in nearby Darling Point.

“It’s an overwhelming moment. We were so excited and got such a warm welcome,” she said. Ms. Martin and her daughter will host an “orphans” Christmas lunch for the overseas Garmin crew overlooking the harbour. “They are the happiest crew and there is some great sailing talent on board.”

Ms. Martin said the highlight of the trip for her was taking the helm during strong winds in the Southern Ocean. “It was absolutely thrilling. The boat feels like a racehorse.”

Their journey is far from over.

The Clipper crews get a few days on shore before taking part in the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race that begins in December 26. From there they race up the Australian coast to Brisbane, and then to China, the US, Panama, and finally back across the Atlantic to London.

Clipper Ventures was founded by English sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968. Sir Robin will also race in the Sydney Hobart.

The Clipper boats take on amateur crew from around the world, including 67 Australians. The 2013-14 edition of the race takes 11 months to visit six continents and will finish back where it started in London in July next year.

So what was Ms. Martin looking forward to on dry land. “A cold beer, then a steak, and then a very long shower. I might even get a manicure,” she laughed.

Courtesy of www.smh.com.au

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