The Clipper 2017-18 Race will be the seventh edition featuring Australia, with the race previously visiting eight different ports around the country. And it’s no wonder why we keep coming back, when you look at how many crew are flying the Aussie flag each race.

50 Australians took part in the Clipper 2015-16 Race – the second highest national contingent. Wendy 'Wendo' Tuck was also the first Australian female skipper, and led her Da Nang – Viet Nam team to victory in the Clipper Race class of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (RSHYR), which doubled as Race 5 of the All Australia Leg.

More than half a year out from the Clipper 2017-18 Race, 46 Australian crew have already signed up, including eleven for the whole 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation.

Thomas Wood, 45, who works in the mines in Pannawonica in Western Australia, is one of them. While he will spend this Australia Day working, next year he will be at sea, nearing the end of The All Australia Leg of the Clipper 2017-18 Race. And he already has an idea of how to share the day with his crewmates.

“I’ll hold a Vegemite on SAO biscuits eating competition!”

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT HOBART

Thomas said he was “stoked” to hear the intention to again register the Clipper Race fleet for the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, when entries open later this year.

“I was hoping for this,” says Thomas.

“It’s exciting because of the tradition and challenge of the RSHYR, and getting to cross the Bass Strait.”

Since Clipper Race Director Mark Light made the announcement at the recent Crew Brief Day in London, eight crew have added the All Australia Leg, while another three have decided to complete the entire circumnavigation.

Chris Grant, 60, from Sydney, has signed on for all eight legs, and a RSHYR veteran, he is looking forward to the possibility of competing in the iconic Bluewater Classic on board one of the twelve Clipper 70s.

“It will be special, sailing on familiar waters and having the chance to catch up with family and friends,” says Chris.

“It’s a great race having just done it in 2016 – which was a very easy race, downwind nearly all the way and nothing more than 30 knots of breeze.”

“I’m really looking forward to the 2017 RSHYR and some conditions that are more typical, such as a strong southerly change hitting the fleet during the first night out, testing crews and boats. And the Clipper 70 boats will fare well in those conditions. And the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Hobart are fantastic - I have become very fond of the local scallop pies, a real delicacy.”

HOME GROUND ADVANTAGE

Both Chris and Thomas are enjoying the fact they can complete their Clipper Race training close to home. The Clipper Race training centre in Sydney is the only one outside the UK, and will be marking its third birthday on Australian Day 2017.

The Sydney training centre is just one example of how the Clipper Race presence is growing year by year in Australia. Two more examples are Helen Carter and Samantha Cook, who are both approaching their one year anniversaries as Australia’s Clipper Race Ambassadors.

“For me, the best bit is simply talking to perspective crew about my experiences of sailing and the Race and seeing the excitement spread on their faces,” says Helen.

“We are trying to build up the community on this side of the world and encourage all the crew members to meet up with each other and help each other plan for the race. We also have a great group of ex-Clipper Race Crew all over Australia and New Zealand and they are all happy to share stories and tips with new Crew.”

AUSTRALIA’S LEADING LADY

One of the Clipper Race Alumni who will have plenty of stories for the new generation of crew is Lisa Blair. Lisa was a winning crew member in the 2011-12 edition of the race on board Gold Coast Australia, one of three Australian sponsored boats that have claimed the Clipper Race Trophy over the years. The other successful boats were Western Australia in the Clipper 2005-06 Race, and Spirit of Australia in the 2009-10 edition.

Lisa, who was a jewellery store assistant before undertaking the adventure of a lifetime, is currently attempting to become the first female to circumnavigate Antarctica solo.

The 32-year-old Sydney based Queenslander told AAP taking part in the Clipper 2011-12 Race “opened my eyes to what I was capable of”.

Lisa will battle ten storey waves, wild storms, 80-knot winds, freezing temperatures, icebergs and whales on her 16,400 nautical mile journey, all the while knowing only two people have ever achieved the challenge of sailing solo, non-stop around the harshest, most remote continent on earth.

The Clipper Race team wishes Lisa all the best in achieving her dream, and you can join us in following her progress here.

There is still time to join the ever-growing Australian contingent in the Clipper 2017-18 Race. If you would like to take on Mother Nature and race across the world’s oceans, click here to apply.

And for all our non-Australian Clipper Race family members, here are a few tips to get into the spirit on January 26.


FAST FIVE WAYS TO PASS AS AN AUSSIE ON AUSTRALIA DAY:

1.Don’t eat anything unless it's charcoaled to perfection on the BBQ.

2.Greet everyone with ‘G’day’.

3.Drink all hot beverages with a Tim Tam (chocolate biscuit) straw.

4.Have Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ on repeat (and have a vegemite sandwich on hand!).

5.Most importantly, have fun!

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