5th September 2022
The race is finished! I last wrote from Derry, Northern Ireland, looking forward to the short 5 day trip back to London.
Nature had the last laugh, first providing us with no wind 5 minutes after the start, followed by 36 hours of strong headwinds, resulting in the most spectacular bout of seasickness I saw in the whole race – I was very fortunate not to be affected, but for a while it seemed every time I looked down from the deck a different crew member had their head in a bucket. After a couple of days we managed to travel around the top of Scotland and through the Pentland Firth (just off John O’ Groats), but then the wind dropped completely. With no wind the fleet wouldn’t get to London in time for the end of race celebrations, so the race organisers called an early finish, so that engines could be used for the last part of the journey. After an exciting last evening racing with 6 boats in view and swapping places, team Zhuhai took 7th place, and 9th overall in the 19/20 edition of The Clipper Race.
It has been a remarkable experience, with over 100 days at sea, and over 21,000 miles pushing me to the limit of my physical and mental endurance, yet also providing some wonderful memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I can’t say I’ll miss the endless grey and cold of the North Pacific or trying to put together a meal for 16 in a small kitchen on a 35° angle, where hot food is liable to throw itself at fellow crew members if it isn’t carefully watched! But I already miss the camaraderie of a team made up of individuals finding the inner strength to carry themselves and support their team members when times are tough. I’ve also learnt to appreciate nature in a whole new way – I’ll never forget dolphins playing beside the boat in the sunset, or the simple beauty of the sky, with cloud formations, sunset, sunrise, and the starriest skies I’ve ever seen.
One of my objectives for the race was to raise as much money as possible for Centrepoint, the UK’s leading homeless charity. I’m proud to say we raised over £10,000, through the generosity of individuals and the support of Thrings and Direct Healthcare Solutions. 105 people took part in the Virtual Clipper Race, and collectively travelled an amazing 29,452 miles! I’m grateful for the support of everyone who donated, walked, cycled or just provided encouragement along the way. A special mention is also due to Lynda, my wife, who not only supported me taking on this adventure and took on a solo role looking after our home and our 2 children while I was away, but also organised the Virtual Clipper Race, all while building her own wellbeing business!
And what now? Having had some time to recover from the race, I’m refreshed and looking forward to my next challenge. I’ll keep sailing, and I’ll enjoy sharing a hobby I’m passionate about with others. I’m sure many people have mixed emotions returning to work after a career break (or even after the summer holidays; my overwhelming feeling is excitement and a sense that anything is possible. There will be new destinations, but I can’t wait to meet a new ‘crew’ to share the journey with. Hopefully see you along the way!