Monday, February 01, 2010

Around The World in...

...A Clipper Race. Pretty much ten solid months of bobbing around in the expansive oceans, giving up the privilege of daily showers
and being drenched with sea spray and plenty of sunshine.
Such is the life of a sailor on board a 68-foot ocean racing yacht on the Clipper Race.


Hull & Humber (pictured above) is one ten vessels almost mid-way through the 35,000-mile course thattakes them across the high seas, deep oceans, one Gulf, one lake and one canal. The sailors, ordinary men and women, set sail from The Humber on the Northeast Coast of England on 13 September 2009 and are expected to complete the seven-leg race right where it all began on 17 July this year.

The race is an adventure of a lifetime and for many, it would cost a lifetime's salary to pay for the opportunity to be a crew member. For a full circumnavigation, each member forks out US$52,100 (equivalent to S$73,291). Even if you had the money in hand, you won't necessarily make the team. Communications Manager of The Clipper Race, Heather Ewing, says the qualification phase is by and large 'self-selecting'. All shortlisted candidates will be put through an intensive training programme that tests their seamanship, skills needed to live and work afloat, and how to race safely and competitively. There is an emphasis on teamwork, and rightly so, given that every member has to work and live in close quarters with about 17 other crew members for up to 5 weeks at a stretch, which happens to be the Atlantic Ocean - the fifth leg of the race.

My guest Jeremy Reed (crew member on Hull & Humber) who's a management consultant from Essex, England said he was not looking forward to the bitterly cold, dark and dreary leg. Jeremy was first introduced to big boat sailing when his wife bought him a 7-day trip on a yacht for his 50th birthday. Four years later now, I suspect Mrs Reed must be regretting her actions that have taken her husband away from her.

I learnt from 19-year-old Luke Dampier (who sails on the Canadian yacht, Cape Breton Island) that his boat had an ice-making machine. He threw in a smirk while making the proclamation. Apparently each boat is stocked and equipped differently, though each team is given the same amount of money for the course of the race for all costs incurred.

For Susan Leslie, the adventure is the perfect break she needs. She's decided to hang up her power suit as a legal eagle in Scotland to contemplate her next course of action while being a member of the crew aboard Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. Just like sailing a yacht, who knows where the wind will blow her to? But for now, law's over for her and a new horizon awaits.

If like Jeremy, Luke and Susan, you think you've got the wits about you to will yourself onto the mighty seas, the search is now on for crew members for the 2011/12 Clipper Race. Don't miss the boat!

Click here to sail on through to the information page of the next race which introduce a brand new eighth leg that takes in New Zealand and the east coast of Australia.

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