Clipper Race: All-Australian leg begins
Published on December 2nd, 2017
(December 2, 2017) – The fourth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, officially known as Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test, got underway today from Fremantle, Western Australia, towards Sydney, New South Wales. It’s the first of three races that make up Leg 4: The All-Australian Leg.
First to cross the Fremantle Harbour start line at 1500 local (0700UTC) was Sanya Serenity Coast, followed very closely by Dare to Lead and Liverpool 2018. By the time teams reached the final mark, Sanya Serenity Coast’s had extended its lead and Qingdao had moved up into second place, with GREAT Britain hot on its heels.
The race to Sydney is expected to take around 14 days, and will challenge the fleet. Clipper Race Director Mark Light explains: “It was a beautiful race start, stunning conditions out on Fremantle Harbour with a great south-westerly wind as predicted.
“The race to Sydney is short by Clipper Race standards, but it’s still 2,500 nautical miles and it will take the teams back into the Southern Ocean, round Cape Leeuwin, and down to the bottom of Tasmania and then up to Sydney. So, 2,500nm is a short race for us, but not for most people and it will definitely be a challenge.”
The fleet will now dip down once again into the Southern Ocean, to the most southerly point of the entire 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation. Vigilance will be key as crew experience some of the most inhospitable parts of the planet, where icebergs flow north from Antarctica.
Early tactical decisions will need to be made as some teams may choose to head south of the rhumb line to take advantage of stronger winds, though this will add extra miles to their race and teams will need to watch for building low pressure systems heading west around the bottom of the planet.
On the other hand, the teams that stay too far to the north risk lengthy wind holes in the Great Australian Bight. After beating against the East Australian Current, the respite of the beautiful Sydney Harbour will await after this punchy, gruelling test.
Having won the last race into Fremantle, Unicef Skipper Bob Beggs said: “Although it’s short, it’s a very tough Leg because you are dropping down into the Southern Ocean into the big winds.”
Having taken part as Skipper in two previous editions of the Clipper Race, Bob is no stranger to this part of the world and knows how tough it can be, adding: “Certainly, Tasmania on the last race gave me headaches because at the time we approached the Continental Shelf there were big seas and big winds so timing was critical. Then you’ve got the currents around the east side of Tasmania up to Sydney – it’s very important that you get those right so it’s a tactical race.”
Despite winning the last race, Unicef currently remains in tenth place overall. The three top teams have all played their Joker Card previously meaning that they have had an opportunity to double their points but this is the first stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race where no Skipper has elected to play their Joker Card, making it a level playing field for all.
Speaking ahead of the departure from Fremantle, overall Race Leader Qingdao’s Skipper, Chris Kobusch, said: “Being at the top of the leader board means that everyone is chasing us at the moment. We’ve played our Joker Card already – it went OK, so it’s going to be interesting when the other boats are playing theirs but not on this next race.”
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is unique in that it is the only event on the planet which trains non-professional sailors to become ocean racers. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up. 40,000 nautical miles in length, the circumnavigation is divided into eight legs.
Teams are expected to arrive into Sydney, Australia, between December 14 and 17.
Following a festive stopover which will include Christmas Day, the Clipper Race fleet will depart again on Boxing Day, December 26, when the teams will once again take on the bluewater classic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
After a short stop in Hobart, the race continues north up the east coast to Airlie Beach in the heart of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands which marks the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and concludes Leg 4: The All-Australian Leg.
The All-Australian Leg is the fourth of eight legs that make up the 40,000-nautical mile, eleven-month Clipper 2017-18 Race.
The fourth stage of the Clipper 2017-18 Race, officially known as Race 4: The Clipper Telemed+ Tasman Test, includes three races along the Australian coast. The 11 teams will race from Fremantle to Sydney, Sydney to Hobart, and Hobart to Airlie Beach in the heart of the picturesque Whitsunday Islands.
Background: Held biennially, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race got underway August 20 for the fleet of twelve* identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The 40,000nm course is divided into 13 individual races with the team having the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew that signs up for one, some, or all the races. The 2017-18 race, expected to take 11 months, has attracted 712 people representing 41 nationalities, making it the largest to date.
* Twelve teams began the first leg but one yacht (Greenings) ran aground just hours after the start on October 31 of the third leg from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The crew was safely evacuated but damage to the boat was deemed too extensive for it to continue in the 2017-18 edition.
Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race