Some of my team mates are currently in Gosport living aboard yacht CV25, otherwise known as Punta del Este, dealing with a never ending list of tasks that they have to get through during ‘Prep Week’ before I join them in 7 days time to deliver our team’s yacht safely to St. Katherine’s dock in London for the start of the race.
Race start officially begins with a Parade of Sail 3 weeks TODAY (that’s a mere 21 days to go)! Given I have been mentally and emotionally living with the Clipper race for two years already, I am finding the reality that the race begins in earnest in only 3 weeks, quite hard to fathom. Even stranger, was the realisation my husband had whilst we sat eating dinner after work on Thursday evening – 8th August – that a year to the day I’d be officially crossing the finishing line onboard Punta del Este back into St. Katherine’s dock (all being well), having sailed in the Pacific and across the North Atlantic in the process! That means this whole mad-cap adventure/challenge will be over in just under a year!
Since I am barely able to focus on getting myself race ready and to Gosport next Monday in order to be part of my team’s yacht delivery crew, the fact that in a year hence, I will have returned from playing my part in this race feels odd. I have read many biographies of sailors, kayakers and ocean rowers to know that my feeling of being overwhelmed and wishing time would slow down before race start is quite ‘normal’ and one shared by anyone who is about to embark on a big, life-changing challenge. In the past I have been very excited and animated about what lies ahead, but currently I just feel numb. There’s a long list of things I need to do such as: making a will, getting a US maritime visa, buying flights to Seattle, sorting out paperwork regarding our car and house whilst away, sourcing appropriate ocean racing kit, booking medicals and vaccinations, getting prescription sunglasses and meds, learning some Spanish etc. etc. All this, whilst juggling three jobs and ensuring I fulfill my obligations at work and being there for my own family and friends. I can’t say I have been good at any of these of late!
Aside from the rapidly advancing big day, there’s also the official big news I can now announce because I have now been informed of the details by Clipper HQ. So, finally, I can now tell you dates and ports for my part in this race and how you can follow our progress in real time…
(drum roll!)….I’m a ‘multi-legger’ crewing in the last two legs of the race – that’s Legs 7 & 8 and they involve the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. The schedule is as follows:
Leg 7’s race start = 2nd May 2020 from Bell Harbour Marina in Seattle, but I will need to register for duty on 27th April 2020 (any one with friends in Seattle please do let me know as I’d love a friendly face to wave me off and perhaps offer to put me up for a few nights whilst in town).
From Seattle we sail down to Panama to Flamenco Island marina on the Pacific side and await to transit the Panama Canal as a whole fleet on the 2nd/3rd June 2020 to Shelter Bay Marina on the Atlantic side. Then, on the 5th June 2020 (my middle brother’s birthday actually), it’s a sprint up to Liberty Landing or North Cove marina in New York, USA.
Leg 8 starts on the 27th June 2020 with a race to Royal Bermuda Yacht Club involving a week’s stop-over in Bermuda. Having never been to Bermuda this sounds very exotic to me (and probably eye-wateringly expensive too)! From Bermuda we set off across the North Atlantic on the 9th July 2020 to Derry-Londonderry’s Foyle Marina. Last, but not least, on the 2nd August 2020 we depart Derry-Londonderry for our last race that will take a mere 6 days or less to return back to St Katherine’s dock across the finish line (probably off Southend) on or before the 8th August 2020.
I have never been to the USA, nor Panama or Bermuda so for me, this will be one huge voyage of discovery. If you have family or friends in Seattle, Panama City, Bermuda, New York, Derry-Londonderry who you think would be up for showing me some hospitality then please do get in touch. I would much rather sleep ashore and enjoy a decent bed and shower than sleep onboard in the marina of each stop-over. But most of all, I know from speaking to previous race crew that some friendly faces to welcome me in each port would be much appreciated and a morale booster.
If you want to follow the race over the coming year then you can do so by going to the RACE VIEWER page of the official Clipper RTW Yacht Race website. There is also a closed Facebook group you can request to join called Crew, Family and friends of Team Punta del Este and we have our own Instagram account, if you’d like to follow us there too, to see short profiles of some crew members, updates from training and prep, useful tips and advice, and fun shots from the team! You can find the profile under @puntadelesteteam on Instagram.
Finally, for any of you who’d like to be there at Race Start and join me in waving off some of my team then there are Race Start Spectator Boats. There are a limited number of tickets available, which you can order here (remember to wear yellow to support our team and let me know if you’ll be there to join me and my husband):