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27 November 2005, 08:53 pm
Durban Gives A Great Send Off
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Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2005-2006
Durban, South Africa

The Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race started Leg 3 in Durban on Sunday afternoon amid spectacular scenes, with skydivers and aerobatic displays overhead in brilliant sunshine.
A flotilla of around 500 boats accompanied the fleet out of Durban Harbour, with yachts, powerboats, kayakers and dinghies turning out to wish the fleet well for the tough race ahead. Around 50,000 Durbanites lined Durban's North Beach to bid farewell to the ten-strong fleet and enjoyed the beach festival atmosphere with jugglers, street performers, gorillas and live music.

Durban Clipper edged over the line first to the delight of the home crowd, but were quickly overhauled by Glasgow Clipper who got the wind up their kilts and pulled away towards Australia in the lead after a good run up to the line. At the start at 1400 local time (1200 GMT), Liverpool 08 crossed the line early, forcing them to do a 360-degree turn, pushing them to the back the fleet and giving the home team a chance to cross first.

Craig Millar and his crew bid farewell to their home port after a week of celebrations and activity at the Durban Yacht Mole, and were hot on the heels of Liverpool 08 as they pulled away at the start of the 4,350-mile race ahead.

Sticking to a tradition held since World War 2, the Lady In White, local opera singer Caroline Smart, sang to the fleet they left the harbour mouth. Led out of the Harbour by the South African Navy and the local lifeboat service, the NSRI, the fleet were given a spectacular send off before heading into the Southern Ocean and one of the toughest races in the ten-month circumnavigation.

As the fleet prepared for the start amongst the flotilla of supporters, skydivers dropped onto the beach with one of the team unfurling a South African flag, ranking as one of world's biggest flags weighing in at 78 kgs.

The fleet departed from Durban's Yacht Mole at 1100 local time, with their team songs blasting out to the gathered crowds. Zulu dancers, led by King Zorro, sent the boats off to African rhythms. The crew on westernaustralia.com threw their trademark sunflowers into the harbour as they headed out, and Joff BAILEY on New York impressed the crowds with his ability to depart backwards and wave at the same time. But the biggest cheers of all were saved for Durban who left the pontoon last to huge applause and cheers. 'Come home safely Craig, we're proud of you,' the local MC said to the Durban Skipper as Durban pulled off in the T shirts made for them their young supporters at Atholl Heights school.

The pressure is now on for westernaustralia.com as they race into their home port. The Aussie entry is currently topping the leader board after three races and will want to avoid the 'home curse' that plagued Durban coming into their home port.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Fremantle on 17 December.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Durban Send Off © Colin de Mowbray
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