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The non-professional sailors from New South Wales racing from South Africa to Australia in epic round the world yacht race

Three non-professional sailors from New South Wales started to arrive last weekend and are set to complete almost 5,000nm from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle Australia across the Southern Indian Ocean and notorious Roaring Forties, an area of the planet that few sailors get to experience.

The Clipper Race trains adventurers from all walks of life to race across the world’s oceans, with no prior sailing experience needed before undertaking the intensive four stages of training required to race on this event. Slit into eight legs across the 40,000nm circumnavigation, participants can compete in one or multiple legs of the race or take on the entire global route lasting eleven months.

This stage of the event, Leg 3: the Roaring Forties Leg is one of the longest and most testing legs of the circumnavigation, where huge swells, ferocious weather conditions and freezing temperatures are not uncommon, and Race Crew can expect to spend around 20-25 days at sea.

The Roaring Forties (40 degrees south of latitude) is one of the most remote places on the planet, where few sailors venture. With wind speeds of 50 knots and above, phenomenal sea states and nothing for thousands of miles around, this is a true adventure and Race Crew will experience Mother Nature at her most raw and unforgiving.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Clipper Race founder and President of Clipper Ventures and the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, sums up this stage of the circumnavigation “If you get it right, and are reaching, you’ll really go. Then the fun comes when the waves build up, and you tend to start surfing. In the past we’ve had boats going over 30 knots going down the front of the wave. Until you see this, you haven’t seen how majestic raw nature is.

“When you see the crews come into Fremantle, you’ll see them stand a little taller, a little more confident and self-assured. Because they’ve done it. They’ve been in the Roaring Forties; they’ve had their turn sailing through the Roaring Forties. Not many people have done it, so they will become part of an elite and something very special in sailing terms.”

While out at sea, Sean Russo wrote the following blog about his time racing through the Roaring Forties: “As the last of the light disappeared so did everything else. Thick cloud cover obscures the moon and stars. No sky, no sea, no dividing horizon, just inky impenetrable darkness. The wind and waves are still there of course. We can hear them; feel them we just can’t see anything beyond the pulpit on the bow and the wind-vane atop the mast.

“The swell which travels faster than us, first pulls us to windward as it lifts up the stern, daring us to surf, and then in an instant it has passed us by, sliding down the back we slow and lurch to leeward. Keeping the boat on course with no visual reference is an art form. Part instinct and muscle memory, part dance, the helm feels the pressure on the rudder for clues and fights to keep the wind on the same part of their face or ears.”

So far, the Clipper Race teams have sailed over 10,000nm and crossed both the North and South Atlantic Ocean, as the eleven-strong fleet raced from Portsmouth, UK to Cape Town South Africa, via Puerto Sherry, Spain and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Setting off from Cape Town, South Africa in November, the fleet embarked on the current race to Fremantle, Australia. From Fremantle, where the fleet is expected to arrive from 9-13 December, the next stage of the adventure gets underway, and crews will race around Australia to both Newcastle and Airlie Beach. The next stop on the race route will then be Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, before the fleet visits the Chinese cities of Zhuhai and Qingdao. It will then be on to the North Pacific, crossing to Seattle and racing around the US coast to Washington, DC. The fleet will return to Portsmouth at the end of July 2024, via Oban, Scotland marking its final Atlantic Ocean crossing.

Track the Clipper Race Fleet at