New Year. New Decade. New Challenges.

As we enter this new decade you might have found yourself reflecting on your life’s journey to date and concluded it’s high time you actually did that adventure you’ve always dreamed of, or took up a new challenge that excites you. According to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Jeremy Vine’s What Make’s Us Human podcast this week, it is the spirit of adventure that makes us human. So, being human after all, get planning that next adventure or challenge!

In the radio programme, Sir Robin reflects:

“I’ve never felt more human than when I’m ocean racing…Daily wants and needs are stripped back to the core. Simple pleasures of fuel, shelter and companionship are what matters…the long game is driven by a thirst for adventure. Adventure is to survive an ocean crossing, not only in a geographical sense, but also to accept everything the experience brings with it; whether it be doubt of one’s ability, isolation, extreme temperature or physical exertion. When you’re in the midst of a storm you aren’t thinking “this is amazing!”, but later, in a moment of calm, you reflect in a different way.”

As the 100 day count down till race start of Leg 7 from Seattle is almost upon me, I am certainly finding myself prone to doubt; questioning whether I am up to the task, a good team player and if I am fit enough to meet the required levels of physical exertion that ocean racing entails. Thankfully, according to the GB paralympian and endurance athlete, Mel Nicholls, my mental doubts before the big challenge are very normal.

I had the privilege of meeting Mel at a Youth Adventure Trust organised walk for their volunteers this weekend in Somerset. She was extremely generous with her words of hard-fought wisdom when it comes to undertaking challenges and adventures and gave me some good advice for how to cope with the inevitable lows that I will face during the race/offshore. Mel has just got into the Guinness Book of Records for handcycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just over 6 days!!!! An extraordinary feat from an extraordinary woman who inspires us all by her motto to ‘Dream Big. Live an Adventure’.

Mel has just had a film about her world record attempt released on YouTube, so if you think you need some inspiration and motivation then watch Dream Big. Breaking a cycling WORLD RECORD below:

Congratulations Mel; an accomplishment for which I hope you are feeling proud, as you’ve definitely earnt it. You and Sir Robin share that human spirit of adventure for sure!

Sailing into History: Sir Robin’s account of what he achieved 50 years ago

At the same time we put a man on the moon, Sir Robin became the first person to sail single-handedly, non-stop around the world. I avidly read A World of My Own, Sir Robin’s auto-biographical account of making sailing history, in my early twenties. So I was quite emotional when listening to him give his own account 50 years after his incredible achievement for Radio 4 , which was aired last night in honour of his 80th birthday.

Happy Birthday Sir Robin; you legend!

….and happy listening blog followers!

Suhaili is still much loved and cared for by Sir Robin. Here she is in Gosport marina in March 2018. I took this photo after my Level 1 Clipper Race training as she was moored alongside our training yacht. I was struck by how small she is compared to the yacht I will be crewing on and yet she has already sailed around the world at least 1.5 times!

“80 Seconds with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston”, presented by another legendary round the world sailor, Dee Caffari.

Crew Brief – The race count down becomes official!

On Saturday 19th January, Dave and I headed off to London to meet Race Crew and their family and friends (Race Supporters) from around the world. We were all gathered for our first official Clipper 2019-20 Race event – Crew Brief – at Lord’s Nursery cricket ground. Whilst I was extremely pensive, as this gathering marked the official count down to the start of the race in 7 months’ time, Dave was very pleased to be at the home of cricket and was eager to see the iconic cricket commentator’s box. Sailing legends like Sir Robin inspire and fuel my dreams, but for Dave, it is legendary cricketers and commentators who he regards as his heroes and inspiration. Happy coincidence then that this event was at Lord’s. Little did Clipper Race Officials realise that they had helped me get Dave fully on board as a Race Supporter by hosting their first official Clipper 2019-20 Race event there!

The iconic location for my first Clipper Race event; where cricket and Clipper collide!

Over 240 Race Crew and 150 Race Crew Supporters were in attendance, including plenty of lovely fellow crew who I’d already had the pleasure of getting to know during my Level 1 and Level 2 training on the Solent in 2018. We all came away feeling reassured and rejuvenated by the collective camaraderie, and certain feeling that our lives were about to change forever as a result of becoming Clipper Race Crew. There was palpable excitement that it was all becoming real: especially when those 240 Race Crew present, myself included, had to queue to get our photograph taken for the Clipper Race website and collect our first item of Race Crew clothing – a Musto softshell jacket with the 2019-20 edition of the race emblazoned on it. A reminder that this will not only be my first ever sailing race, but the race of my life!

All smiles in my first bit of official race kit – a Musto softshell jacket.
Getting my photograph taken for the Clipper Race website; another milestone on the journey!

A cheeky pic with Sir Robin and meeting up again with the Race Crew I have already trained with was the perfect end to a big, epic day in my life. The starting gun has been fired in many ways. Excitement and focus now reign!

Happy to be in the company of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and a fellow ‘legger’ I first met when we were both starting out on our Clipper Race training at Gosport marina in March 2018. She’s quickly becoming a dear friend in this ocean adventure!