The Clipper 2013-14 Race four departed Cape Town for Albany, Western Australia just over a week ago under the stunning vista of Table Mountain, in rather frustratingly light winds. Just 48 hours later however, a ferocious storm whipped up.
Waves on the day of the roll. Michelle’s watch had just come on duty.
Wind speeds of up to 90 miles per hour lashed the fleet, providing dramatic surfs and towering waves as it headed south through the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current into the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean.
Clipper Race Director Justin Taylor commented: 'This leg has historically been a tough one for the Clipper Race. As the yachts plunge down into the Southern Ocean and the Roaring Forties they begin to experience the full force of nature. It would only be the naive who think that we could eliminate all the risk of sailing in the harshest of environments. In fact it is because we can’t that crew elect to go down into the Southern Ocean in the first place.'
Mission Performance and Derry~Londonderry~Doire each had to halt racing to medevac injured crew members, Australian David Griffin and Brit Michelle Porter to Port Elizabeth, South Africa for minor injuries. Both are now recovering well and the teams have resumed racing.
The strong winds have now subsided, bringing an end to Race four’s baptism of fire. Current weather remains cold and wet with forecasts continuing to be complicated, as is expected in one of the world’s most unpredictable seas.
Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd and Weather Forecaster for the Canadian Sailing Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games detailed how Race four’s tough early conditions have matured the largely amateur Clipper Race crew. 'I don't know how we can be labelled an amateur team any longer, considering all we have been through together and how the crew have risen to every challenge.
'Many top sailors will have gone their whole careers and never experienced conditions like these.