If sailing 40,000 nautical miles around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht sounds like your cup of tea, then keep reading. You’ve come to the right place. Oh, and by the way, you need have no prior sailing experience.
The Clipper Round The World Race is a race like no other. The brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, The Clipper Race is divided into eight legs, starting and ending in Liverpool and spanning 40,000 nautical miles over eleven months. But here’s what makes it unique. With the exception of a qualified skipper, the only qualification required to apply to join the crew of a boat is an adventurous spirit. Crew members can opt to participate in select legs only or complete the full circumnavigation, an unparalleled challenge that is normally the exclusive domain of seasoned pros. Crew are put through a month long training program prior to the race and then set loose on the high seas for an endurance test like no other. The boats arrival into Sydney in mid December marked the completion of leg four of the race and a brief reprieve before competing in the Sydney to Hobart race and then heading up to China for the fifth of the eight legs.
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon on board ‘Visit Seattle,’ one of the twelve yachts competing in this years’ Clipper Race, for an afternoon of “interactive” sailing. ‘Interactive’ should have been the giveaway that this was not going to be a sugar coated champagne and canapés kind of arvo. We were tacking, jibing, grinding and winching our way around the harbour until a huge electrical storm hit with 40 knot winds that forced our early return to the dock (under slightly nail-biting conditions). Whilst I‘m not sure I’ve got what it takes to sign up for the next race, it was an absolutely awesome experience made even better by the opportunity to meet the skipper and crew of the Visit Seattle team (who I have to say were very patient and kind with a bunch of complete novices who couldn’t tell the bow from the stern!)
If, like me, you imagine the Skipper of a boat competing in a race like this would be a salty old sea dog then you’d be way off base. At 24, Nikki Henderson, is the Clipper Race’s youngest ever Skipper … granted, she might be a bit salty after four months at sea but certainly not old and quite an extraordinary and totally impressive young woman. Nikki said that it was her objective “to create an extraordinary life-changing experience for every member of my team, to inspire them and to show them why ocean racing is the best thing in the world.” Her crew hails from all corners of the globe and range in ages from 25 to 70. They are ordinary, everyday people – a doctor, teacher, personal trainer, photographer and even a wedding celebrant, all bound by their spirit of adventure and desire to step outside the box and challenge themselves through an endurance test like no other.
Given I get seasick sitting in the bath tub, I’m not sure that this race is for me, but I am honestly in awe of Nikki and the crew of the Visit Seattle team and wish them ‘fair winds and following seas’ for the remainder of their incredible race around the world. What an extraordinary adventure and an opportunity of a lifetime.
Click below to read more about Visit Seattle and The Clipper race, watch their progress or even apply to be part of the 2019–20 race. Now that would be an awesome New Year’s resolution!