​Race 3, The Wardan Whip, starts on Saturday

29 October 2015

Race 3 - Cape Town, South Africa, to Albany, Western Australia - will be called the Wardan Whip.

Wardan means ‘ocean’ in Noongar, a dialect spoken by the Noongar people, traditional land owners of the south west Australia region; and the City of Albany naming competition winner Lisa Gwynn picked it due to the strong southerly winds anticipated on the race.

Also known as the Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride, the exhilarating conditions will be some of the most testing of the circumnavigation. The fleet encountered two hurricanes and gusting winds of up to 100 knots during the 2013-14 edition.

Crew must stay in a channel between the light airs to the north and rapidly-deteriorating weather conditions to the south where the wind comes straight up from Antarctica.

Those who get it right will see exactly what the Clipper 70s are made of; surfing downwind at more than 25 knots on swells higher than buildings. Despite the punishing conditions of the Roaring Forties, the Southern Ocean is known amongst sailors as the place to experience Mother Nature at her most raw and beautiful.

The race will start on Saturday with a Departure Ceremony in Quay 6 at the V&A Waterfront, with the teams slipping lines one-by-one and waving goodbye from 1200 local time (1000 UTC). This will be followed by a Parade of Sail in Table Bay due to start at 1345 local time (1145 UTC) with the actual race starting at 1530 (1330 UTC).

The first part of the course will be raced within Table Bay.

Justin Taylor, Race Director said: “It looks like the breeze will be 25 knots from the south, but as so often happens in Table Bay there might be strong gusts over 40 knots. This will not only be a challenge to select the correct sails but also a physical challenge for the crews. The real threat though is actually becoming becalmed in the lee of Table Mountain, I expect at least a couple of the yachts will spend the night parked up here whilst the rest of the fleet streaks away.

“At the start of this race the crew will pass under the first of the world’s great capes, The Cape of Good Hope. At the end of the race they will pass under the second great cape of Leeuwin in Western Australia.

“Once clear of Cape Town, I expect the fleet will dive south into the wind band that exists between the depressions of the Southern Ocean marching relentlessly eastward and the bottom of the Indian Ocean High. A direct route between South Africa and Albany will almost certainly result in less wind and slower speeds as the yachts close the distance to the centre of the high pressure system over the Indian Ocean,” Justin added.

The yachts however, will not be allowed to go too far south. At the latitude of 44 degrees 30 minutes South there will be a ‘virtual beach’ that the yachts will be forbidden to cross. This is because of the dangers of icebergs that have calved off Antarctica and made their way north. Previous Clipper Races have proven that this limiting line is a sensible precaution and the chances of encountering ice is minimal. On a daily basis, the Race Office will be monitoring the position of any ice that might prove a risk to the fleet and advising the teams accordingly.

The Scoring Gate for this race is located between 40 degrees S / 55 degrees E at its northern end and at its southern end 43 degrees 30 minutes S / 55 degrees E. The Ocean Sprint is 240 nautical miles long and is between the longitudes of 90 degrees East and 95 degrees East. There will be one opportunity for each yacht to go into Stealth Mode for 24 hours. However, if they come to within 250 nautical miles of the finish line they will automatically be taken out of Stealth Mode.

The finish in Albany will be right in front of the Albany Waterfront Marina, with the yachts due to arrive between 22 and 26 November.


The outline programme for Albany includes:

26 November: Prize-Giving

27 November: Official crew changeover day and crew welcome drinks

28 November: Mandatory refresher sails

30 November: Mass crew brief

1 December: Race 4 Start

Click here to see Sir Robin Knox-Johnston talk about the challenges of the Wardan Whip.

To find out more about what Albany has to offer crew, click here.

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