The eleven Clipper Race Skippers have had their final briefing ahead of Race 4: Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia.

Following a busy week of celebrations, boat preparation, community engagement and welcoming their new joiners to their teams, we caught up with the Race Skippers to find out how they are feeling ahead of the next stage of the adventure.

Ineke Van Der Weijden, Perseverance

“This leg is known to be a sleigh ride! Big waves, downwind surfing, but you never know what you’re going to get, we learnt that on the last race. This is a leg that a lot of crew really want to do because it's close to the Southern Ocean, with big waves, big weather patterns and isolated from the rest of the world. No-one really goes out sailing there unless you are on an ocean race.

“Currently we are in the number one position on the leader board and we can’t complain, it's been going fantastic, but this does create expectations from others and from ourselves.”

Image: Perseverance on the water at Race Start

James Finney, Zhuhai

“It’s going to be roughly 25 days at sea, heading down to around 46 degrees in the Southern Indian Ocean. A lot of crew are super keen on doing this leg. This part of the ocean is notorious for the bigger waves and surfs, and it's just an awesome place to go. It can get into the sea state ‘phenomenal’ side of things, so it’s pretty impressive.

“The race for us has been getting better and better. We were so close to second place for a while on the last race, but we ran out of steam a little bit and Dare To Lead really smashed it! We are hoping to improve, and our goal is to finish top five at least, and we would love a place on the podium. I think we have a really strong team and a good chance of doing that.”

Image: Zhuhai team photo in Cape Town

Dan Bodey, UNICEF

“It’s going to be incredible with some really big weather coming for us. I sailed on this leg on the last race, and it was phenomenal. It is a big goal for a lot of sailors to come down and sail in this ocean, and its notorious for being very hard, physical and demanding, so there’s that sense of achievement when you get to the end.

“It’s been really competitive racing so far: you make one mistake or hit one wind hole and you drop out of the back of the fleet, and it makes it challenging but really interesting. Anyone can come first or last.”

Image: UNICEF team photo in Cape Town

Mike Miller, PSP Logistics

“It’s almost 5,000nm across some of the most inhospitable parts of the ocean. I’m hugely excited about this challenge, and all the crew are excited: this is one of life’s real challenges. It’s a bucket-list adventure for every ocean racer in the world. We are now ready to re-double our efforts and keep pushing hard!”

Image: Goodbyes from PSP Logistics

Nano Antia, Yacht Club Punta del Este

“It’s the big mama ocean! Sailing in the Roaring Forties is something really special, you don’t really go down there to sail, it’s not a cruising part of the world. You get in there, then get the hell out of there quickly!

“I chose to be very hands off in the last race, I wanted to train my crew and AQP a lot, so I let them sail the boat and step up to raise their skills to this ocean. We are going to be super strong; I have a very motivated crew and we are going to go for it and push the boat really hard.”

Image: Yacht Club Punta del Este team photo

Jeronimo Santos Gonzales, Qingdao

“Doing well in the Clipper Race and coming back to it is a wonderful thing. This is my favourite leg: it’s the big challenge, the big surfing and it’s the leg that the crew really become the seamen and sailors that they want to become, so I’m over the moon!

“A sailor once said to me: below 40 degrees south there are no laws and below 50 degrees there is no God! So, you can imagine what sort of area we are going to sail through. I think it’s going to be a hell of an adventure.

“Nano was my AQP on the last race and we have a friendly rivalry! So, it will be a friendly competition. I’m sure our styles are similar as we have learned from each other, so hopefully it will be head-to-head working for those first positions on the leader board.”

Image: Qingdao team photo in Cape Town

Hannah Brewis, Washington DC

“It’s a big one! Big waves, cold, wet - it's definitely one of the biggest challenges of the whole race. It’s exciting, but I also have a bit of anticipation for what’s to come. We’re here to race across oceans, so let’s get back into it!

“I’ve spent a lot of time with our team partners from Events DC this week, including President Gates herself. It’s been great to talk to them and understand why they have sponsored our yacht- it makes the whole thing so much more exciting when you are racing for a team like that- they are all amazing people. Unfortunately, Cam (AQP) has had to step away temporarily due to an injury, but Ben Birley will fit perfectly into our team, he’s very experienced.”

Josh Stickland, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

“We’ve got some new energy on board with our new joiners which is really nice. The crew did really well on Leg 2, the helming and teamwork got better. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a long race, so it’s never done until it’s done!”

Image: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in the Parade of Sail

Max Rivers, Our Isles and Oceans

“It’s going to be cold, and the first major challenge for the crew and I’m looking forward to putting the boat through its paces. We'll be dropping into a part of the wild where very few people sail. It’s a super exposed area. We have some very big systems coming through, rolling all the way down to Australia, so we’ll be hooking in to one of those and using it to accelerate us all the way across.

“After a disappointing Race 3 result, we are excited to get out there to prove to everyone that it was just a blip, and we are going to come back stronger than we were before.”

Image: Our Isles and Oceans on the water for Race Start

Ryan Gibson, Dare To Lead

“I think everyone is ready, and the boat is ready. It’s a north westerly wind, so it should be a nice start and a great way to leave Cape Town. This is a difficult leg, so I’m a little bit anxious but excited. It’s a long leg, so we have to be really safe but still we want to push the boat and have a good race.

“We are getting a low pressure quite early, by day two. There’s a lot of low-pressure systems between here and Australia and in the middle, I think we will get some really big seas. We want to find wind, but we don’t want a lot of wind. We could have 70-80 knots in a big system so we’ll try and avoid that, but hopefully it will be big, downwind, fast sailing, I think! Everyone is feeling so good, and I think everyone is still going to bring the momentum from winning the last race. The crew are fitting in, but everyone is feeling good and ready for another good result and a good sail. The current is something to watch out for in the beginning, then it’s just looking for good systems all the way to Australia.”

Image: Dare To Lead team wave goodbye to Cape Town

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