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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 September, 2003, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Clipper race ends world journey
Cape Town's yacht in the Clipper race
The race lasted 35,000 miles
Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Liverpool to see the finish of the longest round-the-world yacht race.

The 35,000-mile contest - which plotted an extended route around the globe - began at Liverpool's Albert Dock last October and ended there at about 1000 BST.

Crews from Liverpool, Bristol, Cape Town, Glasgow, Jersey, Hong Kong, New York and London made their final dash for glory on Saturday morning.

Jersey won the race, with Bristol coming second and Liverpool in third place.

The crews received a rapturous welcome from the 80,000-strong crowd who had gathered at Albert Dock.

The teams have taken in Brazil, New York, Hawaii and Panama during their journey.

The Jersey Clipper team celebrate their victory
It was an absolute needle match between us and Bristol
Former Jersey senator Pierre Horsfall

'Small is beautiful'

Representing Jersey at the finish line, former senator Pierre Horsfall said he was proud the island had won.

"They worked superbly as a team and made friendships that will last a lifetime," he told BBC News Online.

"That's why they won."

He added Jersey was the smallest nation represented in the Clipper competition

"It shows that being small needn't be a hindrance if you are good enough - and, boy, these chaps and girls are good enough," he said

"It was an absolute needle match between us and Bristol."

Hazardous conditions

Crew members, many of whom had no previous experience of sailing, endured hurricanes, monsoons and broken bones during the gruelling race.

One of them was Ed Bennett, who won a Liverpool City Council competition to represent the city on one leg of the race on Liverpool boat.

He enjoyed it so much he gave up his job and stayed on for a further two legs.

Crowds watch the Clipper final
Crowds gathered on the Mersey to watch the finale
Watching the yachts come in at Albert Dock on Saturday he told BBC News 24: "I was very fortunate to be one of the three people to represent the city. I did three legs in total so I got off the boat in Hong Kong.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

'Chilled champagne'

"I have a bottle of champagne that has been chilling overnight and I'll be sharing that with the Liverpool crew."

A huge party has been organised to welcome the teams to the finish line, including a fleet of naval vessels and an aerobatic display.

Councillor Warren Bradley, from Liverpool City Council, said: "It is events like these that show how important the Mersey is to the future of this city as an international cultural destination."

Mr Horsfall said the welcome in Liverpool was "stupendous".

"They have added to their maritime history," he said.

The Clipper fleet will be available for public viewing until Tuesday.




SEE ALSO:
Bristol Clipper comes second
27 Sep 03  |  Bristol/Somerset
Clipper race enters final stretch
30 May 03  |  Bristol/Somerset
Changes planned for Clipper race
27 May 03  |  Europe
Yachtsman's long distance e-vote
01 May 03  |  Somerset


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