Clipper Race across the Great Australian Bight is underway

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet has started Race 4, the Elliot Brown Timekeeper Cup to Sydney, departing Official Host Port, City of Albany, Western Australia.
The start of the 2,088 nautical mile race followed a Parade of Sail while an aerobatic display was performed overhead with hundreds of spectators seeing the fleet depart.
The Race Start took place in King George Sound in a moderate south easterly breeze at 0700 UTC (1500 local time) today, Tuesday 1 December.  First over the line was Mission Performance followed by Garmin and ClipperTelemed+.The fleet then raced round three marks before heading south east.
Justin Taylor, Clipper Race Director, said that as the teams head south-east back into the Southern Ocean, once again, the race route will go below the 40th parallel again for a downwind sleigh ride towards Tasmania.
“This first race of the Australia Leg goes further south than any other and will take in one of the most inhospitable parts of the planet. The teams have the option to go south of the rhumb line to get stronger westerly winds which may turn out to be the fastest option, but will add extra miles.
“On the port beam is the Great Australian Bight and the unforgiving shores of the Nullarbor Plain. With Australia sitting above cold Antarctic waters, icebergs can flow north. The yachts will route toward the southern tip of Tasmania and into the Tasman Sea and the Bass Strait for the first time in an upwind beat against the East Australia current to the finish in Sydney Harbour,” Justin added.
The leg consists of three races, including the iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and then back north to finish in Airlie Beach, Queensland, the gateway to the Whitsundays in mid-January. They will end up crossing the Bass Strait three times in total.
Wendy Tuck is the first female Australian skipper in the 20-year history of the Clipper Race. She leads Da Nang – Viet Nam, in ninth place overall, and will sail into her home city of Sydney at the end of Race 4 in the 14 race global series.
Wendy said: “I have never set sail from Albany before but will be in familiar waters soon, excited to arrive into my home town Sydney and then take part in my ninth Rolex to Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with the rest of the Clipper 70 teams.”
The overall leader board is currently headed by Derry~Londonderry~Doire after its second place finish into Albany at the end of Race 3 from Cape Town.
Skipper Daniel Smith said: “We probably have a little less muscle on this leg, but we have got some very good helms. We expect reasonably light winds to start off with, so that will be a good introduction for the new crew who have joined here. We have got a high pressure system sitting off the Bight so managing that will be key for success.
“We have not had a first place finish yet, so we will be pushing for that. I am looking forward to sailing into Sydney for the first time,” Daniel added.
The race to Sydney is expected to take around 11-14 days to complete depending on the prevailing weather the crew encounter en-route. The arrival window into Sydney is 12-15 December.
The race is sponsored by the Clipper 2015-16 Race Official Timekeeper, British watch company Elliot Brown.  Co-founder Ian Elliot said: “As long time surfers and watermen, Race 4 feels like our natural race.
 “As the clock counts down, its combination of solid Southern Ocean swells and (hopefully) sun on the crews’ backs should prove exhilarating and challenging in equal measure. We should see some extraordinarily high boat speeds to add to the excitement factor if the fleet manages to hook into the westerlies.
“Happy surfing teams – the heat is on to Sydney!” Ian added.

M.O.S.S Australia