Round the World in Eleven Months!

The Clippers in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race are racing into Fremantle as we speak!

Eleven 70-foot yachts are completing Race 4: The Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge and crossing the finish line outside Fremantle Heads over the next few days.

Already three have finished. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam came in first, followed by Zhuhai and Dare To Lead.

Expect over 200 weary sailors around town this week!

​The boats have raced from the UK, to South America via Cadiz in Spain, and then onto Cape Town. This epic last leg of 4,700 nautical miles round the world race took the yachts through the notorious Roaring Forties – between 40-50 degrees latitude.

Teams have endured the wrath of Mother Nature in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet: winds of 70+ knots, mountainous waves and freezing weather.

There is no escape and nowhere to hide on an ocean racing yacht, you have to get on with your fellow crew and be ready at all times to face the elements, to change sails and repair breakages.

Would you fancy racing around the world on a 70-foot yacht? You don’t need any sailing experience to join, 40% of participants in this race are complete novices. It costs 50,000 UK Pounds to complete the whole race, or you can select one or several legs.

The current 2023/24 race began on 3 September 2023 from Portsmouth Harbour, UK and will take eleven months to complete the 40,000 nautical mile race around the globe. There are eight legs and between thirteen to sixteen individual races including six ocean crossings in some of the world’s most treacherous seas.

Over 700 crew will complete the race – they are from all walks of life. Crew must complete four levels of intense ocean race training before they compete. Each of the eleven identical yachts has a fully qualified skipper and first mate to safely guide the crew.

The Clipper Round the World Race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world. The first Clipper Race took place in 1996, and since then 6,000 crew, from over 60 nations have trained and raced.

Clipper’ comes from the word clip, which historically meant to run or fly swiftly. Clippers were fast, square-rigged sailing ships with three masts. They were narrow and fast, designed to clip over the waves rather than pushing through them. Cutty Sark is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper.

These 19th Century clipper sailing vessels were phased out in favour of iron hulled ships and then steamships. The original clipper route was from England to Australia or New Zealand, returning via Cape Horn. The clipper ships sailed this route returning with valuable cargos of grain, wool and gold.

These modern 70-foot sailing yachts are spectacular. Watch out for them arriving over the next few days.

On 16 and 17 December, between 10am and 6pm, join a free tour of one of the Clipper Yachts at Fremantle Sailing Club. It’ll be worth it.

By the way, here’s our report on the Clippers visit to Freo 4 years ago!

* STORY by Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey. Jean is our Shipping Correspondent and also a regular feature writer and photographer here on the Shipping News. You may like to follow up her informative Places I Love stories, as well as other feature stories and Freo Today photographs, right here.


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