​Spotlight: Leg 4- The Australian Coast-To-Coast Leg

23 January 2023

Mileage: 4,000nm

Air temperature: 5-30°C

One individual race

Days racing: 20

Where? West coast Australia to east coast Australia (ports to be announced)

When? December 2023-January 2024

The Australian Coast-To-Coast Leg, otherwise known as Leg 4, challenges Race Crew in every way possible. Racing from Western Australia, the fleet heads south, dipping into the Roaring Forties before making its way up the east coast to a warm Aussie welcome.

Crew can expect all of the conditions that Mother Nature can throw at them- from rolling swells, towering waves and high wind speeds, to upwind, changeable and hot conditions as the fleet heads up the country’s east coast.

Image: Racing on Leg 4

On leaving Western Australia, crew will tick off sailing around Cape Leeuwin on the south western tip of Australia- something that few sailors get to race past, before heading to the southerly limit, into the Roaring Forties. This iconic stretch of ocean serves up some seriously harsh conditions: expect huge waves crashing over the bow, blasting winds and cold conditions.

Image: Splashy conditions on Leg 4

Once the fleet rounds Tasmania, the teams aren’t yet out of the woods. As the yachts begin to race north up the east coast of Australia, the ocean swells, changeable winds and building heat will continue to test stamina and skill, however, with the reward of beautiful seascapes and friendly wildlife.

Talking about a standout moment, Ellen O’Brien, Race Crew on the 2019-20 edition on board GoToBermuda said; “As my watch went on deck around 6am… 40 knot gusts of wind had us surfing the waves of the Southern Ocean and it couldn’t have been more intense! Wavy [Skipper] was in his element, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy! Every wave we caught he was crying out our boat speed, elated when he reached the highest speed of the Leg 4 Race so far – 18.9 knots! The boom was in the water, spray in our faces, waves engulfing the low side, the whole boat drenched but we were all buzzing, ready to put in a reef and drop the head sails as and when instructed. This was what I had seen in all of the brochures and videos... and goodness me it was exciting!”

Image: Life at 45 degrees

Anne Hough, a Circumnavigator on board Punta del Este in the 2019-20 edition of the Clipper Race recounts a highlight of the leg: “As we turned out of the Southern Ocean into the Tasman Sea we had the biggest welcome ever. We were greeted by hundreds of dolphins giving a spectacular performance. They were leaping vertically 10 feet into the air just in front of the boat and swimming directly towards us as well as leaping all around us. As far as we could see there were leaping dolphins.”

On top of the cocktail of sailing conditions to encounter, crew racing on Leg 4 also get the unique experience of celebrating Christmas and New Year at sea. Plus, being a shorter leg, it still packs a punch so those looking for an adventure without taking too much time off work can benefit from a varied, challenging race with a taste of extreme conditions and the opportunity to visit two iconic Australian destinations.

Image: New Year’s celebrations on board Punta del Este in the Clipper 2019-20 Race

Rob Pepin, a 2019-20 crew member on Imagine your Korea said: “Leg 4 attracted me for the variation in sailing temperatures… started hot, cold around Tasmania, and a hot end to the race. Christmas at sea was very different from Canada- there was a little bit of missing home and family, but beautiful sailing and an amazing Christmas dinner by our mothers! One for the books! Fremantle and Airlie Beach are fantastic ports! For a short Leg it packs a lot of fun into a short period.”

Image: The Clipper Race fleet docked in the beautiful Whitsundays, Australia during the Clipper 2019-20 Race.

Want to experience this for yourself? Spaces are available on this iconic and exhilarating leg. To find out more, request further information or book an interview via the website.

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