It was a spectacular scene as thousands of people turned out to watch the end of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race in Southampton, England. Gold Coast Australia secured overall victory, as the non-professional crew on board all ten ocean racing yachts marked the end of a 40,000-mile challenge of a lifetime.

Clipper Race winners Gold Coast Australia

Overall Clipper Race winners Gold Coast Australia lead the fleet int he Solent - photo Onedition

After 51 weeks of ocean racing Gold Coast Australia today took first place in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. Visit Finland finished in second, while a battle towards the end saw Singapore pip De Lage Landen to the post for third place - finishing seconds ahead.

The fleet crossed the final finish line in Race 15 in the early hours of the morning, where Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, led a parade of sail up Southampton Water to welcome back the fleet of ten identical 68-foot racing yachts.

Tasmanian skipper Richard Hewson and his crew proudly stood on the helm of the Clipper Race yacht as thousands of people applauded the victorious Australian team.

“It has been an amazing adventure. From the start we’ve had plans to dominate the race and we’ve definitely done that. We’ve been racing against some fantastic teams and very tough competition all the way.

“We’ve achieved so much more than we set out to achieve, had so many wins and podiums, but to stand on the stage as overall winners is unbelievable. The fantastic crew of Gold Coast Australia, amazing support from our sponsor and followers have all been part of making this happen,” said Gold Coast Australia skipper Richard Hewson before accepting the winning trophy on stage.

All day thousands of people lined the dockside of Ocean Village Marina in Southampton, England to welcome home the crew members after a gruelling challenge lasting almost a year has seen them take on the world’s largest and most formidable oceans, endured violent storms and frustrating calms, extreme heat and bone-numbing cold while racing ferociously to win.

While Gold Coast Australia led most of the race securing a podium place in all 15 races, its nine competitors remained close throughout. Visit Finland skippered by Olly Osborne kept in a firm second, while there was a fight to the end for third place, as Singapore stripped Dutch entry, De Lage Landen of third place coming into Den Helder last week.

Further down the leaderboard it remained close between fifth-place Welcome to Yorkshire and New York in sixth place, while Derry-Londonderry and Qingdao had a fight until the end in the 260-mile sprint finale.

The Clipper 11-12 Race has seen a total of 500 non-professional sailors from all walks of life turn into seaman conquering the toughest conditions at sea.

People from all walks of life, nationalities and ages can be part of the Clipper Race. Reflecting on ordinary people achieving something extraordinary, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston applauded their achievement, as the nearly twelve months at sea concluded today.

Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox Johnston

Race founder Sir Robin Knox Johnston leads the parade of sail - photo Onedition

“All the crew members have achieved something special with their lives. They have ventured out across the oceans of the world facing nature in the raw, whether it be the stifling heat and calms of the doldrums or the ferocious storms of the North Pacific and Southern Oceans.  They have become great seaman and should all be justifiably proud of their achievement,” the 73-year-old sailing legend said.

David Willets MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science ( Cabinet Minister) at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, attended the Race Finish today, as the two British entries in the race, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital and Welcome to Yorkshire flew GREAT Britain spinnakers, against the picturesque British south coast upon arrival into the Solent.

David Willett MP went on to say, "Britain's status as a great trading nation was founded on our nautical prowess and sense of adventure, and the crews who return home today have continued this proud tradition.  The Clipper Race is a powerful partner in the GREAT Britain campaign, which promotes the best of British ingenuity, internationalism and competitiveness around the world.”

The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race is the eighth edition of the world’s longest yacht race, visiting 15 ports of call on six continents. It is also the last race on the Clipper 68-foot yachts, as a brand new fleet of twelve identical 70-foot racing yachts will be launched for the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race. Since the race started more than 4,000 people from all walks of life have participated in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.