Happy Thanksgiving from the Roaring Forties!

23 November 2023

Despite racing through one of the most remote oceans on the planet, intrepid, non-professional sailors, including 32 Americans, still enjoyed their turkey (or ham) and sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. The eleven teams competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race have been enduring wind speeds of up to 67 knots, conditions which are being faced in one of the most remote places on earth.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which trains people from all walks of life to become ocean racers, with many participants having zero sailing experience before signing up to the intensive four stage Clipper Race Training programme required to join the race. One team, representing the city of Washington, DC has six Americans on board at the moment, with their day jobs ranging from software developer to Harvard professor.

They have spent the holiday so far surfing down huge waves, facing some of the toughest weather conditions and indulging in some Thanksgiving treats after spending six hours working hard on deck to sail fast. For the intrepid Clipper Race crew currently hundreds of miles from land and racing across Southern Indian Ocean, this year’s Thanksgiving was a memorable one.

Image: Jessica and Chee Wah on Zhuhai cooking up a Thanksgiving feast

Across all teams, 32 Americans from all walks of life have traded the warm comforts of home and a family celebration to sharing a feast with around 22 fellow crew mates from around the world as they sail almost 5,000nm from South Africa to Australia on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, taking on the notorious Roaring Forties.

To celebrate the occasion, crew on board Washington DC, the team representing the US Captial and Race Partner, Events DC, cooked up a Thanksgiving dinner for the crew in a two-meter squared kitchen (also known as the galley)- in other words, a space the size of a cupboard. Whilst the feast was being prepared, the yacht was screaming down huge waves in the middle of the Southern Indian Ocean, in an area known as the Roaring Forties, famed for its huge swells, gale force winds, and for being one of the most remote places on earth.

From on board Washington DC, Skipper Hannah Brewis said: “Ahoy, happy turkey day! It’s Thanksgiving, and as the American boat we are taking this very seriously. The biggest part of Thanksgiving is the food, so we will be indulging a delicious turkey dinner, except apparently Cape Town [the previous Race Stopover Port] doesn’t eat turkey so we will be imagining turkey as we eat canned ham. This will be accompanied with authentic American stuffing and cranberry sauce along with mash potato, peas and gravy. For dessert we’ll be having pumpkin bread as we watch a re-run of the Dallas Cowboys playing the Philadelphia Eagles. I’ve been reliably informed that apparently the Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving and it’s part of the tradition... is it obvious this is my first thanksgiving celebration!”

The crew on Bekezela also celebrated the occasion whilst screaming through the Roaring Forties, captured by Californian Onboard Reporter Meredith Rogers, who is sailing around the world, documenting the adventure:

The Clipper Race teams are spending 20-25 days at sea, battling through the huge seas and strong winds of the Roaring Forties before sailing into sunny Fremantle in Western Australia. Follow the fleet via the Clipper Race Viewer.

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