After a relaxing refit in Albany, Australia following the sporty and sometimes harrowing passage from Cape Town the teams in the Clipper Round the World Race are off and running downwind that is in race four, the Elliot Brown Timekeeper’s Cup, a southern jaunt to Sydney.

It was all spinnakers and rolling blue seas as the teams set out on what was called a clean race start. And it really does sound like an idyllic passage so far. It’s also the shortest of the legs, at 2,088 nautical miles.

Out front was Mission Performance, followed by ClipperTelemed+ and Da Nang – Viet Nam. Those tow boats are less than a mile apart, and we can be certain that salty communication, and maybe some less-than classy music is wafting between the two competitors. The leader actually began the race behind the venerable LMAX Exchange, and was excited to have overtaken in the favorable conditions.

“Race start was the most spectacular and exciting that Mission Performance has seen to date,” said skipper Greg Miller. “We decided to go for a kite hoist and although it took us quite a while to get it up, we used it well and had a few good jibes along the way.

Of course, “a few good jibes,” translates to a surprising and sometimes violent shift in the sails, when the boom racks across the hull, coming to a loud crashing rest on the opposite tack. It’s always alarming, generally exciting, and commands some high-speed reactive seamanship to get it fixed.  Good times indeed.

Still, the light wind start, which led some to seek lifts in channels between islands and others to seek open waters outside the straights, can and will lead to some curious developments. Positions will change, mishaps and triumphs will happen, and by the time the fleet reaches Sydney there will no doubt be a new set of standings. And there’s a big, unstable system brewing for the entire Australian bight. So it might be sun hats and flip flops now, but the foulies are most certainly coming out.

Photo credit: Clipper Round the World Race