After a parade of sail past the waving crowds, it’s out onto the waters of one of the world’s Great Capes — Good Hope — and getting ready to face what, for many sailors, will be their ultimate challenge. As the Cape of Good Hope falls astern, the racing yachts tack down towards the 40th parallel. This is where the Roaring Forties start and the Southern Ocean provides some of the most extreme and exhilarating sailing in the world.
Crew safety and kit preservation are the watchwords. If the cloud is thick, night sailing happens in inky blackness with just the compass and the instruments to help. It’ll be chilly, too, because although it will be a Southern Hemisphere spring, the wind might be coming straight up from the ice of Antarctica.
Leaving the lonely and remote Kerguelen Islands to starboard, the combination of strong winds and large ocean swells that are bigger than buildings will keep crews on their toes. So, too, will the chance of vicious in-coming low pressure systems that can bring with them intense, gale force storms. Expect 80 foot swells, boat speeds of well over 30 knots and wind speeds that can reach up to 70 mph. A downwind run you’ll never forget.
Your reward is the knowledge that you’ve raced in the most remote ocean on the planet, where outside of the Clipper Race fleet your nearest companions are the astronauts on the International Space Station.
The beautiful, sun kissed beaches of Western Australia and a well chilled drink will be a welcome sight.