Barkingside gran leads epic yacht race on 60th birthday

An ocean-going Barkingside grandmother celebrated her 60th birthday by sailing into first place in a round-the-world yacht race.

Cathy Draper’s boat, Qingdao, slipped into pole position at midnight on January 6, the day Mrs Draper, of Hamilton Avenue turned 60.

The team set out from Australia’s Gold Coast on Christmas Eve on the latest leg of the 40,000-mile Clipper race.

Mrs Draper’s husband Ian said: “This is the first time that they have been in the lead for so long. However, there are still 2,752 miles to go in this race, Geraldton [another team] are only 11 miles behind and positions can change quickly.”

Mrs Draper set off in the 68ft yacht from Southampton in September.

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Her skipper Ian Conchie said: “The big push westwards has begun! We have been sailing with Geraldton Western Australia for the last 24 hours ,which has given us someone to race against.

“It will be interesting to see how the different routes work out for each of the boats. We should see the fleet converge over the next four or five days.”

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The boats will call at Qingdao, China; San Francisco, USA and Halifax, Canada before returning to the UK later this year.

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