As far as the eye can see!
Welcome to the inaugural Archityper blog post, dedicated to logging all the trials and tribulations of my new sailing adventure where family, friends and visitors alike can keep track of all my latest news and rambling views! I feel like I should be smashing a bottle of bubbly off the hull of a ship but a celebratory mug of tea will have to do for now!
So, after being plagued by the advert posters on the London underground for the last two years followed by a trip to St Katherine Docks, London in mid-April for an open tour of a Clipper 70 race yacht I have finally given in and decided to take part in the Clipper Round The World 2015/16 yacht race. What is sure to be an amazing experience is certainly not for the faint hearted but for those who know me it probably comes as no surprise and for those who don’t, well I’ve always been up for a bit of a challenge and this one is no different albeit a bit more extreme. The simple fact is, it’s either now or never because time waits for no man and there’s just no time like the present.
For those of you unfamiliar with the whole concept of The Clipper Round The World yacht race, it’s a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world in 12 identical 70 foot racing yachts. Organised by Clipper Ventures plc, no prior sailing experience is necessary and approx. 40% of participants have never sailed before signing up. Other than the skipper, the crew of each boat is entirely amateur. The race is split into 8 legs and crew can chose to participate in the full circumnavigation, or if money and or time is an issue, then crew can choose to participate in specific legs. I have chosen legs 5 & 6 which sees me set sail in January 2016 from Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Australia north to Da Nang, Vietnam then north again to Qingdao, China and finally east to finish in Seattle, USA, some 4 months and 12,000 nautical miles later.
So What’s It All In Aid Of?
Having no prior sailing experience, although I am reminded that both of my grandfathers worked on cruise ships at one point or another back in the day so I may have a little bit of sailing in the blood, however this remains to be seen! But on the back of this epic undertaking and for a complete novice I aim to raise much needed awareness and support for two charities which are very deserving recipients indeed, NMO-UK is a rare illness research foundation based in Liverpool, sadly a good friend of mine has developed NMO so I want to do whatever I can to help and CATS Foundation whose main focus is supporting the families of children affected by Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff disease, where a diagnosed individual will suffer a relentless deterioration of mental and physical abilities, in the most common forms the symptoms commence around six months of age and result in death by the age of five.
It’s How You Apply Yourself!
Following my decision to embark on this adventure and a lot of emails and correspondence with Clipper HQ later, I finally got down to the business of applying for a place in the 2015-16 race. I was a little overwhelmed and under prepared to say the least, let’s just say it was like applying for a job where there are approx. 600 candidates all of whom want the same position. In saying that however, the people at Clipper HQ were great in guiding me through the process which was not helped by the fact that most people usually sign up a year or two prior to their particular leg whereas I was signing up 6 months prior to mine. Thankfully it all worked out but in situations like this my mantra is usually, let there be no panic and if there is, let it be organised!
let there be no panic and if there is, let it be organised!
So registration complete (or not as I would later find out), I still wasn’t assigned to a Team, there seems to be some weird hoodoo voodoo which determines this because all the boats are identical and the idea is that crews should also be matched to make the race as fair as possible. Now with a full cross section of gender, personality, age, experience, skill and every other trait you can think of, you can begin to see how hard this task might be, however some weeks later I find out to my surprise and delight that I have been assigned to Team Derry~Londonderry~Doire skippered by Scotsman Daniel Smith. I was over the moon to say the least because not only do I get to sail on board the only Irish boat in the fleet but its crew will be the best craic by far “Purple Power” & “LegenDerry” I hear them say!
Preparation is Key
When it comes to preparations and ensuring participants are race ready, crew members are required to undertake a training programme consisting of four 1 week training modules on board a training race yacht at Clipper HQ, Gosport Marina in the south of England. For some this is simply a transition from one type of sail boat to another, possibly of a different size, rigging, setup etc. you get the gist but for me this was a whole new world. I liken it to learning a whole new language with the expectation that one has to be fully proficient in four weeks, it was a daunting prospect. I had never stepped foot on a sail boat never a mind a stripped down race yacht and to make it worse I didn’t even know the difference between port (tip: no red port left on the table) and starboard nor bow and stern for that matter, how on earth was I going to cope when sailing across an ocean. Anyway I set about gathering all the kit I needed for my level 1 training which took place between 5th and 11th June and I was looking forward to it, as much as one could!
If you would like to support me by donating to my chosen charity please click here or alternatively donate via text by following these simple instructions (UK only).