A balmy Perth summers evening was the perfect backdrop to celebrate the achievements of Leg 3 Race Crew and the epic crossing of the Roaring Forties at the Race 4: Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge Prizegiving.

With the last of the fleet arriving just a few hours before the festivities began, the smiling faces descending on Fremantle Sailing Club were case in point that Race Crew were happy to be on solid ground, embracing the Aussie sun and looking forward to sharing this moment of pride with their fellow teammates.

Race 4: Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge saw the teams take on the Southern Indian Ocean, as they made the 4,750nm crossing from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Western Australia.

Known as one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, the Roaring Forties threw just about every weather condition possible at the fleet – ferocious seas, swells, and waves, freezing temperatures and a level of wet that crew described as touchable in the air. As Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “When you see the crew come into Fremantle, you’ll see them stand a little taller, a little more confident and self-assured. Because they’ve done it. They’ve been in the Roaring Forties; they’ve had their turn sailing through the Roaring Forties. Not many people have done it, so they will become part of an elite and something very special in sailing terms.”

To start proceedings, Clipper Race Director Mark Light said “What an amazing race. It was superb to follow on the Race Viewer and it had spectators gripped until the very end. Fast and exciting racing across harsh conditions, we watched various tactics played out as teams navigated their way through the Roaring Forties, and on to the final stretch. The three front runners broke away, leaving the remaining eight teams to battle it out on their way to the Finish Line.”

Mark also added that the UNICEF fundraising total had now exceeded £300,000 across the board, with the total for this edition currently sitting at £303,902.68 - an incredible total for so early on, in the race. A big thank you to Race Crew and Supporters for the ever-creative ways they continue to raise money for the Clipper Race Charity Partner.

A special mention went to the team efforts of Bekezela as they were recognised with the UNICEF Charity Champion Award. Already raising over £50,000, Bekezela was the first team to achieve its £30,000 target and has topped the leader board in money raised since leaving Punta del Este.

To mention just a few initiatives, the team has hosted events including golfing days, and homecoming parties for returning crew. A crew member paid for a banner to be displayed at each stopover with the QR Code for the teams JustGiving page. And another crew member set up a blog, initially for friends and family, to follow his race that now has a following of over a 1,000 people. The team’s joint effort has been inspirational to see.

Image: Bekezela celebrate winning the Charity Champion Award

Next up was the Media Prize, an award highlighting the incredible moments captured by Race Crew while out at sea. The photos, videos and blogs sent back by Media Crew members summed up the environment and conditions experienced whilst racing across one of the toughest stretches of ocean on the planet perfectly. 

There was some strong competition for the Leg 3 Media Prize, with highly commended nods going to George Coldham on UNICEF for a beautiful image of an Albatross at sunrise, and to Jaci Smith on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam for her timelapse on getting ready for a watch in the Roaring Forties, showing all the many layers needed for such a tough ocean crossing.

However, it was Paolo Perillo on Qingdao who scooped the Leg 3 Media Prize for his beautiful blog describing the intense change in conditions in the Roaring Forties. Congratulations to Paolo Perillo!

Image: Paolo receives his award from Alex Guillon of Fremantle Sailing Club

Next up was the newest addition to Prizegiving, the Impact Champion Award, designed to recognise any person or entity that has had an impact upon the Clipper Race ecosystem in any capacity.

The Leg 3 Impact Award was awarded to Marlow Ropes for being a trailblazer in sustainable innovation. With a legacy spanning over two centuries, Marlow Ropes has been at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in rope manufacturing and was recognised for its dedication to environmental responsibility, innovative solutions, and remarkable contributions to making oceans cleaner and safer.

Image: Dianne McGrath, Marlow Ropes Brand Ambassador, accepts award on behalf of Marlow Ropes

And then it was time for Marlow Ropes to give out the awards! At the start of Race 4 – aptly named the Marlow Roaring Forties challenge – Marlow Ropes asked Race Crew to showcase their most innovative ropework skills.

Special mentions go to Yacht Club Punta del Este's entry that showcased Jorge's impressive knowledge of whipping the Yankee sheets to prolong the life of the ropes, PSP Logistics very elegant rope dancer, and UNICEF's festive Christmas rope-wreath!

But for embodying Marlow Rope's values of sustainability by upcycling Marlow Rope fibres to fix the reefing lines in place on the boom, the winner of the Marlow Ropes award was Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

Image: Paddy from Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam receives a plaque and splicing kit from Stephen and Christian from WA Rigging on behalf of Marlow Ropes

Over to the racing and keeping everyone on the edge of their seats ahead of the grand reveal of the Ocean Sprint, first on the lineup was the Scoring Gate. Emerging from a well-timed Stealth Mode just as they slipped through the gate, it was Dare To Lead who took the top three points. Race 4 winners Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam took second place and two additional points, and Our Isles and Oceans took the last point up for grabs when they crossed third.

What do points mean? Leader board positions! A second opportunity to grab some extra points on each of the races is the Ocean Sprint – a race between two virtual markers on the crossing, with three points up for grabs for the yacht that crosses through in the fastest time.

The Ocean Sprint for Race 4: Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge was between 088°E and 095°E, with the distance to the rhumb line approx. 330nm.

Totting up the points, it was Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam who won the sprint, adding three points to its taking. Followed by Dare To Lead who crossed through second and taking two points, and taking one point, and making it first appearance on the Ocean Sprint leader board, was Qingdao.

The full results were as follows:

30:29:53 Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

30:54:00 Dare To Lead

31:24:00 Qingdao

31:42:00 UNICEF

31:59:58 Zhuhai

32:12:53 PSP Logistics

32:14:14 Bekezela

33:09:14 Washington, DC

35:46:43 Perseverance

36:54:56 Our Isles and Oceans

37:27:16 Yacht Club Punta del Este

Image: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam receive Ocean Sprint pennant from Stephen and Christian from WA Rigging, on behalf of Marlow Ropes

And finally, onto the Race 4: Marlow Roaring Forties Challenge podium placings. Race 3 winners, and second time gracing the podium, it was 3rd place for Dare To Lead. Skipper Ryan Gibson, AQP Charlie Warhurst and team were presented with the award by Steve Parkinson, Rear Commodore of Sail.

Image: Dare To Lead receive pennant from Steve Parkinson, Rear Commodore of Sail to present prize

Top trumping themselves from Race 3, it was a return to the podium for Zhuhai, taking the 2nd Place spot. The team, led by skipper James Finney and AQP Mike Davies received its pennant from Anthony Kirke, Vice-Commodore of Fremantle Sailing Club.

Image: Zhuhai take to the podium to receive second place

Finally, the crowd erupted as 1st Place, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam took to the stage celebrate its Race 4 win and first podium placing of the competition. A superb achievement for the team who had a storming race. Jostling with Zhuhai and Dare To Lead in a race to the top spot, it was the Vietnamese team who reigned supreme and enjoyed its moment on the podium.

Image: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam receive their first-place pennant