Race 4 in the Clipper 2019-20 Race, named the Marlow Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride was a 4,750 nautical mile endurance test from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia and included the Scoring Gate and Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint, as opportunities to gain bonus points.

Line slipping from the spectacular V&A Waterfront started at 1200 local time, shortly followed by a parade of sail for the perfect photo in the bay. The race officially started at 1500 and the fleet were then onto the waters of world famous Cape of Good Hope for a short inshore course.

As the Cape of Good Hope left their sight, the teams headed into the Indian Ocean and down towards the 40th parallel. This is where the Roaring Forties start and the Southern Ocean provided some of the most extreme and exhilarating sailing in the world.

Racing non-stop around the clock, the eleven teams, racing identical yachts, faced wind speeds of over 50mph (80km/h), freezing cold temperatures and waves as tall as apartment blocks in their bid to win the third stage of Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

After a three-week game of cat and mouse across the Southern Ocean, between the two leading Clipper Race teams, it was Qingdao which clinched a narrow victory. The team, flying the flag for China’s sailing city, pipped closest rival Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam to the finish line in Fremantle, Australia, crossing the finish line at 18:41:35 UTC on 7 December.

On Race 4: The Marlow Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride, Skipper Chris Brooks said: “It’s been an epic journey. Above anything else the weather has been challenging, just keeping positive when there is nothing but rain and grey skies. But it’s been amazing, so brilliant to come in first.”

In the final days of their race, the frontrunners Qingdao and Ha Long Bay Viet Nam, hunkered down to play their last strategic moves around incoming weather systems. Crossing the finish line just a little over an hour behind Qingdao, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam claimed a well-earnt second place on the Race 4 podium, crossing the line at 19:54:07 UTC.

Upon arrival, Skipper Josh Stickland said: “We said at the beginning we’d head east, we stayed with the pressure and fronts and it paid off. Well done to Qingdao and Imagine your Korea. They pushed us, we all pushed each other through the whole race. I have a great team to be with. Overall, it was a great race.”

The race for the final podium spot went to Imagine your Korea which, under the lead of Clipper Race Skipper Dan Smith, enjoyed its first podium result of the 40,000 mile circumnavigation so far.

The fleet called the Fremantle Sailing Club home between 08 and 24 December, where the teams celebrated an early Christmas, sharing their experiences and enjoyed all that the warm, breezy destination had to offer.