Samantha Fuller, the first ever female Clipper skipper, yesterday lead New York Clipper to victory in race two of the Clipper 2002 Round the World Yacht Race.
At 08:15 GMT (03:15 local time) Samantha and her crew triumphed across the finishing line off the entrance to Havana Harbour in Cuba after a 28-day transatlantic race.
At 26, Samantha is the youngest of the eight rival skippers and has boasted a commanding lead of the fleet since shortly after the race start off Cascais, Portugal, on 10 November.
Clipper 2002 is hotly contested by eight identical yachts each representing an international city; namely Bristol (defending champions), Cape Town, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liverpool, London and New York.
Commenting on her first victory in the Clipper 2002, Samantha (from Colchester, UK) said: "My crew are simply wonderful and winning this race is hugely rewarding for all on board. We've experienced the highs of ocean racing as well as the lows and certainly the last few days have been real nail-biting stuff. I'm looking forward to a breather here in Havana, although we're all on a high after winning this race and will be looking forward to getting back to sea."
New York Clipper will now make her way down the coast to International Marina Hemingway, some 9 miles to the west. Because the wind is now blowing strongly from the north they will wait until first light before entering the narrow channel through the coral that leads to the Marina. Bristol Clipper is lining up to clinch second place and, with less than 60 miles to run, is expected to cross the finish line at 16:00 GMT.
An amazing 2 miles separate London, Jersey and Hong Kong, which after 27 days and some 4,000 miles is quite fantastic racing! The story is just the same 70 miles further astern where Glasgow, Cape Town and Liverpool are virtually neck and neck and constantly swapping positions. With 245 miles to run, we hope that the new wind will bring them to Havana tomorrow, Sunday, 8 December.
Race organiser, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, today said: "I'd like to congratulate the crew of the New York Clipper - and especially young Samantha as our first ever female skipper in the race. It's a remarkable achievement to lead the way on the fleet's first ocean crossing and she has really shown the other Clippers how it's done.
Sir Robin added: "The first leg really sees the crews come together as teams, overcoming setbacks and conditions which most will never have encountered before. The New York crew have been an inspiration on this leg. In fact, the closeness of racing amongst the whole identically-matched fleet has been quite breathtaking."
After the challenging, tactical racing and testing weather conditions of the first leg, the 15-strong New York Clipper crew will celebrate during an eventful race stopover hosted by the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba.
After a well-deserved rest in the tropical climes of the Caribbean, the Clippers will be back on the high seas on Saturday, 14 December when they will race from Cuba to Hawaii, via Panama and the Galapagos Islands.