MONMOUTH Rowing Club member Eric Froggatt proved once again he’s just as happy sailing on the world’s toughest oceans as paddling on the Wye, by helping his yacht crew to a second straight victory in the Clipper Round the World race.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, boat, who were last of the 11-boat fleet before taking victory on the 4,700 nautical-mile Roaring 40s Cape Town to Fremantle stage last month.

And their new-found speed continued around the south of Australia to New South Wales on the 2,500 nautical mile Sta-Lok Endurance Test leg, which included raging seas south of Tasmania.

Maintaining a strong position in the standings throughout the race, the team started out jostling between fourth and fifth, before accelerating to become a front runner about a third of the way into the leg.

As the fleet rounded Tasmania, Ha Long Bay consolidated a lead which it managed to keep until the finish line, crossing 11 hours ahead of Dare to Lead in second having taken 13 days and nine hours.

The crew also won the ocean sprint over a 300nm section between latitudes 041°S and 036°S by a full nine hours to pick up three bonus points, lifting them to fourth overall in the race standings.

On the pressure of holding onto first place, Ha Long Bay skipper Josh Stickland said: “Staying in second place is a lot less stress!

“But we are chuffed to be in first place. We were lucky, as we had a sizeable chunk to lose, around 60-80 miles. So, we knew we could take our time with a few things, and not push quite as hard. Now we are on land we can enjoy the (belated) Christmas and New Year festivities!”

Eric’s wife Lisa was in port at Newcastle to meet Eric when they arrived early a week last Tuesday (January 2) having flown out last month.

And the crew celebrated with a well-deserved cold beer, an Aussie hot meat pie and champagne spray on arrival, combined with a warm Newie welcome from the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club team as the sun started to rise.

Jaci Smith, a crew member on board, said: “I loved the downwind section, and I think we survived the upwind part, that was not my favourite, but downwind was a lot of fun! I’m really proud of the team, they came together so well.”

First Mate Ella Hebron added: “The team did an incredible job. Every evolution was to perfection and they tried hard the whole way, so it’s amazing to be here in the place they deserve! I’m looking forward to a cold beer, shower, go for a run and a nice full sleep.”

Former Metropolitan Police officer David Hartshorn from Chepstow, skippering Bekezela, was also celebrating with fourth place in 14 days 16 hours, and third in the sprint, to place eighth overall.

Angus Whitehead, the youngest professional sailor in the race at just 20, had to settle for the final place for a second race running on Yacht Club Punte del Este, taking 16 days, although they still lie fifth having won the Cadiz to Uruguay leg.

But the Old Monmothian first mate will be hoping for better on the next Asia Pacific leg from eastern Australia to Zhuhai in China which started on Tuesday (January 9).

Eric and his crew mates would also love to make it a hat-trick of wins, as the race includes Ha Long Bay, after which their boat is named.