A lesson in what can go wrong at sea

Last week I got an unforeseen last minute opportunity to go sailing for the bank holiday weekend with a couple who own a Moody 38, called Ty Mor. I jumped at the chance and didn’t think twice about the early start from Swansea marina on the Saturday morning. They had looked at the charts and weather forecasts and created a passage plan that involved 3 days sailing from Swansea to Lundy, then on to Tenby, before finally sailing back to Swansea on the bank holiday Monday.

The Bristol Channel, the area where we sailed for three days and saw only four other yachts.

I felt very grateful for their offer to go sailing with them as it meant I could get some much-needed practice in ahead of my level 4 training in a few week’s time with my ‘real’ race Skipper and Mate (slightly daunted by the prospect!). I was also grateful for the opportunity they had given me to sail aboard a yacht that’s considerably smaller and therefore, quite different from a Clipper 70. A little apprehensive, but mostly excited (and definitely grateful) I had quickly gathered my sailing boots, some thermals, seasickness tablets, sun block and a sleeping bag and driven over to Wales.

The generous spirited couple who own Ty Mor are Susan and Mark Baldwin. They live near Chepstow (so fairly local to me), but I had met Sue through the Clipper training. Sue is going to be a circumnavigator in the race aboard Visit Sanya skippered by Seumas Kellock. Joining us at Swansea marina was another female Clipper race circumnavigator, Kathy Haig, who will be sailing aboard Zhuhai under Skipper, Nick Leggatt. Kathy and I were the novice sailors, both having done next to no sailing prior to our involvement in the Clipper race. Sue and Mark meanwhile, have been sailing all their lives and spend every opportunity they have to be at sea aboard their much-loved yacht.

Sue, studying the charts to locate a safe anchorage as we approach Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel.
I felt in very safe hands with Sue who is already quite an accomplished sailor. She is usually found at the nav station (pictured), whilst her husband prefers to helm.
Sue loves a navigational chart and meteorological data; I’m still learning!
Ty Mor at anchor off Lundy Island; the other yachts were the first we’d seen all day.
Ty Mor is the yacht in the foreground. This is taken at dusk from Lundy where I had been watching seals from the pier.

All was going well, apart from three out of the four of us struggling with seasickness in lumpy seas and the tablets we’d all taken were wiping us out with drowsiness. Despite this, Kathy announced on deck that she was going to go down below to make us all a sandwich during our sailing passage from Lundy to Tenby and we all enthusiastically answered that it was a good idea. There’s nothing like the constant wind chill at sea to make me want to constantly graze on food – mostly easily-at-hand food such as sugary snacks that I’d never touch when ashore: mars bars, digestive biscuits, Pringles, salted cashews, bananas and crisps.

Kathy turned to go down the companionway steps into the saloon from the deck. First one step, then another, moving her hands down the handrail as she did so, then “S***!” A drawing in of air, a closing in of panic, dread replacing nausea in our stomachs. Kathy had fallen backwards from the steps as a big wave in the lumpy seas about us had knocked her off balance, sending her flying backwards so her back slammed against the solid wooden table in the saloon. Sue and Mark instantly jumped up and went down below to assess the situation leaving me at the helm to keep a look out and count the seconds pass by in dread for what they might find.

Sue managed to get Kathy to the couch in the saloon and kept talking to her to assess the extent of concussion and injury. We administered painkillers and encouraged her to sip water. For a few hours Kathy was stabilised lying in the saloon and kept saying she was OK. It wasn’t until she shouted out she needed assistance to go to the toilet that we began to suspect a broken rib or internal bleeding as she was in agony trying to stand up and found she was unable to.

Once Sue had got Kathy ‘stable’, she phoned Kathy’s partner to alert him to the fact that Kathy might not be returning to Swansea. Through all this, Kathy was courageous and kept being upbeat. Sue was absolutely incredible in tirelessly looking after the safety of crew and yacht. She is a very competent sailor and I respect her enormously.

Given we were within a hour of sailing into Tenby and it was now early evening, we decided we’d call the coastguard and ask for advice rather than make a MAYDAY or PAN-PAN call via VHF. Immediately upon doing so, things took a dramatic turn and we found ourselves having to motor in circles and stay offshore so that an RNLI lifeboat could be deployed from Tenby lifeboat station and a helicopter airlift could take place if necessary.

Support for Kathy was on its way!
Sue, Mark and I were very apprehensive when the RNLI lifeboat approached us. We put fenders on both port and starboard as we had no idea what they were planning to do and we needed something to do with our nervous apprehension!
The Tenby RNLI lifeboat pulled alongside us and two crew jumped aboard with emergency medical kit.
Upon their arrival we were instructed to moor up on the RNLI buoy off Tenby. This RNLI lifeboat man kept us all occupied on deck and communicated with the RNLI vessel, whilst his colleague assessed Kathy in the saloon.
They were brilliant guys and we were hugely grateful for their reassuring presence. Once he’d made his assessment and radioed for a paramedic to arrive by helicopter this man got a well deserved brew – always necessary in a crisis!
Once he arrived, the paramedic ordered that Kathy be taken off the boat by an RNLI basket stretcher back to the RNLI lifeboat station in Tenby, where an ambulance was to be on standby.
Kathy’s feet can be seen on the stretcher as she is safely transferred onto the lifeboat with all the RNLI crew, paramedic, medical kit and of course those key 21st century items, her mobile phone and charger!
Being taken back ashore by stretcher; not how Kathy anticipated her sailing trip would end!
A crowd had gathered to watch as the lifeboat came up the slipway in Tenby.
As the helicopter flew off overhead, Sue, Mark and I sat in silence wondering what on earth was going to happen next and hoping that her injuries were not serious. We were subdued that night and Kathy’s absence was keenly felt onboard.
We spent the night on the RNLI mooring buoy wondering where Kathy was being sent to and the extent of her injuries.
The next day we made an early departure (a bleery-eyed 6am) from Tenby back to Swansea, but still we didn’t know what diagnosis had been made regarding Kathy’s fall. All we knew at this point was that Kathy had been taken to a hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. As we were one crew member down I had to fight back my fear and take a more active role on deck, which included helming in a force 7.

We made it back safely into Swansea marina and once we’d moored up we learnt that Kathy was to be discharged after one night in hospital with a walking aid and lots of prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatories. She’d had a CT scan, among other tests, but doctors concluded she hadn’t broken any ribs or damaged organs; she was simply suffering from very painful internal tissue bruising. It was such a RELIEF to hear this news, because we knew what was at stake if it was a more serious diagnosis, since Kathy is due to set off on her circumnavigation in the race in 95 days’ time.

Reflecting on the unexpected turn of events, I realised what a valuable lesson this had been for me in the run-up to race start. When at sea ALWAYS expect and try to be prepared for, the unexpected. Danger isn’t just lurking on deck, but moving about the boat down below can be just as dangerous, if not more so.

I had also got to experience heavy weather sailing and the effects that can have on the body and crew morale when seasickness sets in. I was surprised by how calm all 4 of us coped with Kathy’s accident; most of all, Kathy herself! And I marveled at the free emergency service provided by the RNLI, which is run by dedicated volunteers, quite separate from the coastguard. The lifesavers who stepped aboard Ty Mor were such a reassuring presence. I genuinely do not know what we would have done without them and I know I will never see an RNLI lifeboat in quite the same way ever again.

…I also now know far more profoundly, what is at stake by setting off to sail across oceans. If an accident happens to me or fellow crew during the race, we won’t be able to call up the coastguard on VHF radio and wait for an RNLI life boat in order to be rescued. We’ll be relying on our own wits and onboard resources. At best, there will be a voice assessing our medical dangers and guiding us through medical procedures from thousands of miles away via the PRAXES medical support service and, if we’re really lucky, a ship may be a few days away and willing to divert course to offer assistance. It’s a very, very sobering thought.

This companionway may look benign, but in heavy weather can be an accident waiting to happen, as Kathy’s experience taught me.

We had no idea at the time, but Kathy’s rescue made it into the local newspaper – Western Telegraph- with a rather dramatic headline: ‘Helicopter and lifeboat on mercy mission to injured sailor‘.

Competition Time: Name my Clipper Race mascot!

When I was attending the razzmatazz that is Crew Allocation in Portsmouth earlier this month I bumped into an unrelentingly positive and energetic roofer from the Wirral who I trained with during my Level 1 training week back in March 2018. His name is Les Perry. He has boundless energy and enthusiasm. I would have loved him to be on my team, Punta del Este, because he’ll be fantastic for crew morale during tough times I’m sure.

Les’s sister, Viv, who I have never met, knitted me my very own mascot for £20, in order to support her brother’s fundraising campaign in which 25% of the money he’s raising will be donated to UNICEF, the official Clipper Race charity. I had quite forgotten that I’d put in my order last year via our L1 WhatsApp group, so I was delighted when Les presented me with my mascot in Portsmouth.

Meet my hand-knitted mascot in full ocean sailing gear!
Les’s sister, Viv, excelled herself at the details.
My mascot came in a personalised bag and the cap, gloves, life jacket and Musto foulies can all be removed; amazing handiwork! I love it.

So I am asking you, dear WordPress readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, to suggest a name for my mascot who’ll accompany me through the race. I would like to set a deadline for name nominations and that date is 6th July 2019, marking my team-building weekend with my race team. It seems an auspicious moment in the pre-race countdown to name my mascot too – all significant steps towards the start line if you ask me.

All nominations can be left as comments on this blog post below or you can email me your suggestion at drhannahrumble@gmail.com or Tweet your suggested name to @NoviceSailor using #RaceMascot.

I shall select a name after team building weekend and the lucky person who provides the winning name will get a hand-crafted, lino-cut print made by the very talented, Charlotte Chapman. I intend to send the print through the post, so that a little souvenir of my journey gets posted through your letter box. Now, what’s not to like about that?

Look-back Time

“I discovered the ocean in my imagination. I discovered the ocean in books.”

Sailing to the Edge of Time: The promise, the challenges, and the freedom of ocean voyaging – John Kretschmer

I have had an albeit, quite private, bookish love affair with boats and sailing since my early teens when I discovered the writing of Robin Lee-Graham, Slocum and Chichester and would vicariously go on their sailing adventures and ocean crossings as an armchair stowaway…They fuelled my romance and longing for big adventure, an expanse of ocean and exploring new horizons. How I wished for the freedom and romantic adventures of Robin aboard Dove!

I got my chance in 2005, when an opportunity presented itself to go and live aboard a 32 foot ferro-cement sloop called Crystal in the Bay of Islands, the North Island of New Zealand for six months.

The relationship with the boat’s owner was disastrous, but my relationship with Crystal was instant. She opened my eyes to the sheer joy and freedom of waking up each day at anchor in a secluded bay, lying tucked up in my berth listening to the wind clatter the shrouds and the tide pull at the anchor chain. All those stunning sun rises and sun sets viewed on deck in delicious solitude!

I never knew the phrase ‘live-aboard’ until I met a vibrant, eclectic mix of live-aboards from around the the world, all sheltering at Russell in the Bay of Islands, hatching up plans for their next ocean crossing once the weather improved. I was fascinated (and a little envious if truth be told) of those children who had grown up at sea and never knew the constraints of life ashore. Self-contained kids who were confident to make friends and entertain themselves wherever they were, communicating in an excited, confusing babble of languages and hand gestures; What a life! What freedom! I was also impressed by the adults who seemed self-assured, so eternally positive and ready for anything. I was inspired by this cruiser community, but in my heart knew it remained out of reach at the time.

Although living aboard Crystal opened my eyes to a whole new way of being upon this earth, I would hardly credit it as a sail training opportunity. The boat very much belonged to the ‘other half’ at the time and he took full control and was not patient enough to teach me about sailing or the boat. But in many ways it didn’t matter, because sharing life aboard his boat for six months was enough for me to vow to myself that if I could, I’d find a way to learn to sail and go to sea on my own terms.

Crystal at anchor somewhere in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. 2006.
Living a dream: Fishing off Bird Rock at sun rise in the Bay of Islands (New Zealand). February 2006.

That was 13 years ago now. After an all too brief spell living at anchor in New Zealand I found myself back in Thailand trying to survive on meager wages from publishing restaurant reviews and articles in a Thai luxury lifestyle magazine and teaching for the British Council, but it wasn’t long before I found myself back in Durham doing a PhD (more on that in another post as the subject matter has played a central role in why I applied to the Clipper Race!). After completing my PhD at Durham University in 2010, I packed up my postgraduate life in Durham – forever my spiritual home – to take another life gamble. This time I was moving down south, to Bristol, to join my now husband and seek work. I have often lived and worked abroad since originally leaving home at 19 years of age to go to Malaysia and seek my fortune (it didn’t happen, obviously, but I credit my time in Malaysia for the woman I am today). However, until Bristol, I had never lived south of the Peak District when in the UK; the north of Scotland, yes, but the West Country was new territory for me.

2011, following the completion of my apprenticeship into academia by becoming Dr Rumble, was a tough year for me, as I was once again starting over, but this time ‘austerity’ had taken a firm grip on squeezing the hopes, dreams and opportunities of those living in the UK. After much effort, I secured some very short-term academic research work and some zero-hours work for a year crewing for the Bristol Ferry Boat Company, which all helped pay the rent whilst writing my first academic book and settling into Bristol city life.

Aboard Emily, one of the ferries I regularly crewed upon in 2011, whilst working for the Bristol Ferry Boat Company. Not quite an ocean crossing, but much better than nothing!

Working as crew with the ‘ferry family’ was great fun and a lovely way to get to know a city and some of it’s ‘characters’ and sights, but it provided a lousy and unpredictable income at the time, which didn’t help me to feel settled in my new home. Nevertheless, it did present me with my first opportunity to sail aboard a very special boat, The Matthew of Bristol, from Fowey in Cornwall to Ramsgate in Kent. This was to be my first taste of coastal sailing in the UK and only served to galvanise my dream to get a few RYA sailing tickets during my life so I could enjoy more time at sea. At the time, The Matthew was hired out to be transformed into the Dawn Treader for the Narnia film, hence why we were sailing her to Ramsgate; it provided much needed funds to cover her maintenance and expenses.

The Matthew is a replica of the Tudor merchant ship that John Cabot sailed from Bristol in 1497 taking 54 days to make the crossing to Newfoundland across the Atlantic. Cabot was searching for a sailing route to Asia but ended up ‘discovering’ Newfoundland instead. The modern replica that you see in Bristol harbour today and that I had the pleasure of sailing aboard, was built to celebrate and recreate the 500th Anniversary of the voyage in 1997. The ship completed the task and returned triumphantly in 1998 (the same year I left home to venture to Malaysia). She remains a working ship and is available for private and corporate hire and can be visited when moored up in Bristol’s historic floating harbour.

When I sailed her to be delivered to Ramsgate for her transformation into the Dawn Treader, it was March 2011. It took us 4.5 days to sail there, including 24 hours in Gosport’s Haslar marina due to poor weather. The trip was roughly 300 nautical miles with an average of 5-6 knots; we were not sailing fast! I joined a motley crew as a deck-hand with absolutely no experience of traditional boats and barely any sailing knowledge, but a whole lot of enthusiasm to muck in and make the most of the journey. Our Skipper was Rob Salvidge, himself a former Clipper circumnavigator, the larger-than-life Sasha Hall as First Mate and a very taciturn ‘galley slave’ called Dave, who was a force to be reckoned with! Conditions were cold, damp and smelly, but we had a lot of laughs and I got to fire a cannon in the Channel, which gets a mention in the ship’s log.

An unconventional log book entry.
An unconventional crew.
But a very, very traditional sailing ship! This photo captures me feeling very, very cold, but relishing my precious time offshore aboard The Matthew; one of my treasured memories.
Somewhere in the Channel at sun rise. I loved how the sun’s rays made the deck work glow orange; a sight to behold!
Damp, smelly conditions down below, but still a LOT more comfortable, drier and roomier than what I’ll experience aboard Punta del Este in the Clipper RTW yacht race!
The Matthew arriving into Gosport/Portsmouth in 2011. She felt very out of place moored up alongside power boats and super yachts, but I love The Matthew and smile whenever I see her back home in Bristol Harbour.

Once back ashore and between writing job applications in Bristol, I wondered into a ‘charity shop’ on Gloucester Road and found an unused, but old edition, of an RYA logbook. I promptly bought it and took it as a sign that I must make it back to sea in my lifetime. Seven years later, to the very month (!) that very same log book received its first official entry from my Level 1 training Skipper, Emily Caruso, for 110 nautical miles sailed over seven days aboard CV2, a former Clipper 68 racing yacht, on the Solent. I was beaming. I was FINALLY realising a long held dream. My return to Gosport’s marina wasn’t only about sail/race training for the Clipper RTW yacht race, it was also very nostalgic and emotional, as I recalled how my life had changed course since I first sailed into Gosport seven year’s previously aboard The Matthew. Life moves in unseen loosely-drawn circles at times and I am full of gratitude for that.

The Clipper 68 training fleet moored at Gosport marina.

The ‘River of Birds’

Seven days ago, when I sat in the Guildhall at Portsmouth with sweaty palms, racing heart and hardly able to breathe because I was full of expectation and overwhelming emotions for the news I’d waited so long to hear, little did I suspect my team and yacht sponsor would be a country located on a continent I have never had the pleasure of visiting!

Enthusiastic to learn more about Uruguay and Punta del Este in particular, I wasted no time going to a public library when I got back to Bristol and taking out all available books on Uruguay. As a result I now know that my team and yacht is named after Uruguay’s premium beach resort (and for the people of Argentina too), Punta del Este.

According to the Bradt travel guide to Uruguay written by Tim Burford, Punta del Este, has numerous bars and nightclubs that debut tunes setting the musical fashions of the holiday season for Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Travelers to Punta del Este are reminded to: “Note that in January people (Argentines in particular) have a nap when it gets dark and eat around midnight. Bars and clubs only get really lively around 04.00, and it’ll be broad daylight when many people head home.” …It looks like the sleep deprivation and stamina we build up at sea on our watch system could come in useful when ashore in Punta del Este! It also explains why our Skipper, Jeronimo, was keen to identify our boat with fun and set the bench-mark for the happy, party boat (I just thought my reputation had proceeded me!). The challenge now is to come up with a team tune that encapsulates all this and currently my fellow crew are submitting their nominations on our closed Facebook group to be finally settled when we all meet for a team building weekend in July (feel free to suggest a tune I can nominate to the team. All our Skipper said was that it must be upbeat and preferably, Latino).

If truth be told though, I am not a nightclub nor resort kind of person, but two things about Punta del Este stood out for me in the Bradt travel guide: Firstly, that the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lived there in the early 1950s, so visitors can now have a guided tour of his manuscripts, books and personal effects in the Museo Paseo de Neruda. Secondly, from August to October, migrating right whales can be seen from the beach, hence, the whale-watching towers for viewing them on the mansa (calm) side of the peninsula.

Of Uruguay I knew nothing about it, other than on what continent it is located. So reading about it is presenting a fascinating learning opportunity and some great armchair travel, which, for now, is how it’ll remain, as I am not crewing in Leg 1 of the race (from London to Punta del Este). This means I will miss this opportunity to be aboard the homecoming leg for my team and yacht…maybe one day I’ll visit Uruguay. Who knows.

But for now, my armchair travel to Uruguay has revealed that ‘Uruguay’ means ‘River of Birds’; what a beautiful name for a country! I love to go birdwatching with my mother on the rare occasions she is able to visit us in Bristol. She’s quite physically disabled from a severe car accident when I was young, so car or train travel is hugely challenging for her in a way that few able-bodied people will ever fully understand. I admire her so much for her sheer determination and ‘survivor instinct’, which has got her through her adult life thus far. She courageously makes herself drive to bird hides around England and Wales where she knows she can park nearby and use her walking aid on a flat surface to get to a hide. We have spent some great times together over the last few years in hides in the West Country and she has taught me a lot about bird identification and encourages me by advising on what binoculars to buy and giving me bird identification books for Christmas. So I suspect mum, with no interest in sailing, would like the fact I am representing the River of Birds in this ocean sailing race!

I also suspect that many British people reading this do not equate a Fray Bentos pie with a place called Fray Bentos in Uruguay. Neither did I! One of my husband’s ‘guilty pleasures’ is to go to our corner shop when I am away and buy himself a Frey Bentos pie for dinner. Since I have to manage my oral Crohn’s/ orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) with a cinnamon and benzoate-free diet (to avoid flare-ups and steroid medication), there’s absolutely no way I would be able to eat such food. He claims they’re very tasty and taste even better because we don’t normally buy them.

Corned beef Frey Bentos pies originally came from the El Anglo meat-packing plant in Frey Bentos, which opened in 1859. It is now an industrial heritage museum and in 2015, the entire El Anglo complex was recognised as Uruguay’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the coming months I am sure I’ll write further posts about Uruguay’s history, culture and politics as I discover more for myself, but for now, I am just happy to represent a country just over the size of England, the second-smallest country in South America (after Suriname) and with near-total literacy and minimal corruption (allegedly). Uruguay won the first soccer world cup in 1930; here’s hoping we win its first entry in the Clipper round-the-world yacht race in 2020!

For those “who paint their lives in bright colours, not pastel shades” all was (finally) revealed at Crew Allocation.

[Drum roll please]

…After two years training in the dark I now know my team!

I’ll be representing Uruguay in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2019/20 under command of a Spanish Skipper, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez. This is Jeronimo’s debut in the race and also Clipper’s 1st Spanish Race Skipper, as well as being Uruguay’s debut into the race sponsoring a yacht – Punta del Este. All these debuts mirror my own into sailing and certainly amuse me.

I love the sentiment from the Commodore of Yacht Club Punta del Este to the team: “Prepare yourselves for the challenge, be a good companion, help each other, do your best to win, and enjoy – because, after all, that is why we are alive.” Wise words and they certainly match my own values and hopes in this race of my life.

Now it’s time to learn some Spanish (in addition to learning how to sail) and for all 64 crew to pull together as a team, despite hailing from 14 different countries, and decide on a team song – for our podium wins of course! 😉

Punta del Este team stats

To see all the crew racing aboard Punta del este see:
https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/team/punta-del-este/race-crew

My ‘official’ ugly mug for ‘Team Jeronimo’!
I don’t like seeing myself without my glasses. I have worn glasses since I was a child and didn’t like being asked to remove them by the official photographer; only immigration officials have requested that from me up until now!

I can’t even begin to describe the expectant atmosphere in the Guildhall at Portsmouth and how much my heart was in my mouth at this point! All 11 Race Skippers were individually brought up on stage before each took to the microphone to announce their crew.

This was my first impression of my Skipper as he was invited up on stage to take his seat beside the other Race Skippers; he was animated, cheerful and quite the showman!

Jeronimo announcing his crew.

After the official Crew Allocation announcements we all separated into our racing teams, so Jeronimo and Team Punta del Este’s Mate, a laid-back Canadian, Ryan Barkey, took us into the Council Chamber in the Guildhall to spend 4 hours getting to know each other and start to develop our team mission, values and identity. It was a very significant few hours and the beginning of our race campaign!


Ryan Barkey, our team’s Mate (Additionally Qualified Person), has spent the last six years in the sailing industry since moving from Ontario, Canada, to South Africa to acquire his Yachtmaster licence. Since then he has racked up in excess of 30,000 nautical miles and most recently has been based in Airlie Beach, Australia, as skipper and engineer for ex-maxi racing yacht, British Defender
My own significant moment with my Skipper; this time next year I’ll have already spent 2 weeks at sea in the Pacific sailing with him and my fellow team mates! I like him already. We can count Aberdeen university, Galicia, Hastings and a love of dancing among our shared connections. I think I might have met my match on the party front though!

We ended this momentous day by all the crew from across all 11 teams gathering outside the Guildhall in Portsmouth for an official photograph.


I really hope I do!
Here I am at the helm of CV25 moored at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth during Crew Allocation. It turns out CV25 will be the very yacht I race/live aboard next year! In a few weeks she’ll get her Punta del Este sponsor’s branding…In 50 weeks time I will be helming her for REAL!!!!
Looking tired but thoughtful as I process all the news and adrenaline from Crew Allocation day. The sun sets not only on me sat here, but on the beginning of a team I already know I’m going to love and be proud to represent in the race of my life.

Although for me the big news of the day was finding out which team and skipper I had been assigned to, so that I could develop my own team spirit, another crucial bit of information all crew and their supporters were waiting for was when the race would actually start and from where. I can now announce that St. Katharine Docks in London will be the location for the official race start and end.

The eleven strong fleet of 70 foot ocean racing yachts will be berthed in the docks’ Centre Basin for a week-long event from 24 August 2019, before they depart for their 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation on 1 September 2019.  This means you can all expect to see me and my team sail home into the docks in early August 2020; I really hope to see you there cheering us in.

A BIG day tomorrow: Crew Allocation

This time tomorrow I will be one of around 700 expectant crew gathered from around the world in the Guildhall at Portsmouth to hear the news I have been waiting for since I applied to this race 22 months ago…which Skipper, yacht and team I have been assigned to, as well as which ports we will visit during the race and when the race might actually be scheduled to start. All key information, which once we are informed, will make this race very, very real …and exciting! I could hardly sleep last night for the anticipation.


Last night’s race prep/homework ready to meet my Skipper, Mate and fellow team at Crew Allocation in Portsmouth this weekend.

As I head off to Portsmouth later today I will be reflecting on my responses to the questions we are required to address prior to meeting our team tomorrow. Big questions that ask each crew member to articulate their fears, expectations, measures of success and motivations for their part in the ocean race, so that each Skipper can begin developing their team’s race campaign tomorrow afternoon. I noted that 99% of my personal responses to my fears and anxieties about the race, my personal objectives, measures of success in the race and expectations of myself and others all focused on the relational, interpersonal aspects of ocean racing. I wonder what that say’s about me? I also noted that right now, in the lead up to the race, being on the winning team would be a bonus, because I value good team spirit and crew relations on board more than winning. Tomorrow I might be challenged on that by my Skipper and fellow team mates and my values may change as the race campaign gathers momentum…only time will tell!

Crew Allocation for the previous edition of the race.

For anyone reading this living in the vicinity of Portsmouth, there will be two Clipper 70 racing yachts moored at Gunwharf Quays so that anyone can step aboard and see for themselves what life aboard will be like for the race crew.

Bring your friends and family to tour above and below deck. See what a stripped-out 70 foot ocean racing yacht is like and imagine life at a 40º angle. It’s free to tour, but donations are welcome in aid of Unicef. You can tour the yachts at these times: Saturday 11 May 1000-1900 and Sunday 12 May 1000-1700. Remember to wear flat shoes though!

A Clipper 70 as viewed from the top of the mast.