Leg 2 - Power Reaching

Leg 2 - Punta Del Este, Uruguay to Cape Town, South Africa

Number of souls on board: 21

Distance sailed: 3,700 nm

Number of days at sea: 15

Finish position: 5th

The last few days in Punta were filled with final bits of maintenance work and enjoying the last of the pleasures of dry land but by the time are start came around I was itching to get back on the boat. I think this is a pretty similar feeling for most of the crew, particularly the ones who really enjoy the sailing aspect of all this. 

We had a cracking race start, screeching towards the start line on port tack (this is risky as the sailing rules give priority to boats on starboard tack) with Skip on the wheel and myself trying to call the timing and position of other boats. It might be quite a nerve-racking for Skip to do this when from one side of the boat he can’t see behind the sail to any other boats and must trust someone else to get that call right. He must also be an idiot to put that trust in me! This time we got it right and were over the line first. In these long ocean races such a good start really won’t affect the racing it is simply exciting and gets the team pumped for the race ahead. 

As we rounded the last mark off the eastern most point of Uruguay we shook out our reefs and set a course for 120 degrees on the compass. The significance of this didn’t dawn on me at the time but throughout the race, and looking through our log book, this was largely the most common bearing we had. It illustrates the nature of this leg as it was a “straight shot” across the bottom of the globe sailing along the great circle line between Punta and Cape Town.

Our game plan was pretty simple for this race. Follow Dale. Dale (skipper on Dare to Lead) would be sailing into his home port having made this crossing 47 times before. Despite its simplicity this seemed like a strong and stable plan. What could go wrong? Well, with the wind largely coming across our port quarter we had the boat rigged with a full main, staysail and the yankee 1. This was a pretty aggressive sail plan at time in the first week and we often found that we weren’t just burying to toe rail (top edge of the hull) but the entirety of the guard wires under water (safety wires running around the boat). This is genuinely a pretty scary way to sail the boat as it is fully heeled over to 45-50 degrees. But this seemed to work for us. We had good boat speed compared to the other boats and after a few days we were in the lead……shit……what now……game plan was ruined and we seriously considered trying to slow down to let Dale catch up!

We decided that with the weather reports we could interpret and our positioning that we would make a play for the scoring gate. This rewards the first three boats through with some extra points. After some exciting sailing against Qingdao and Seattle we nipped through the scoring gate as the second boat snagging 2 extra points. This was a great feeling to know that only 5 days in you already had points on the board however as the scoring gate was slightly off the great circle line we had been pulled out of position and lost a few places. 

Life on board was really good. Our new joiners had settled into the groove really well and were making a good contribution to the boat. The crew that were still on for leg 1 were showing the experience they had gained and I saw a lot of people with a significant boost in their own confidence. This was amazing to see and made my life a hell of a lot easier. With my watch happy to go on deck and sail while I stayed below to chat with Lance and Claire about the weather or tactics meant any time was much less stretched. I can’t thank my watch enough for this as it made leg 2 much less stressful experience than leg 1. 

Friday 13th October - disaster. If you don’t believe in superstition try this on. On Friday 13th everything went wrong culminating in our steering wheel breaking off just as it went dark. No problem, we shall move to the other steering wheel. Except that the compass light on that side was out. In the dark the compass is our live feed for direction. The electronic instruments suffer from dampening and delay and therefore driving to them usually results in slow reactions or massive over corrections. The compass is key when it is dark out. That is bad luck and if it had happened any other day I would have ignored it. 

It was considerably colder on deck and below. When the wind shifted round to the south the drysuits came out. This southerly wind blowing up from the Antarctic was so cold at night that I would regularly be wearing three mid layers beneath the drysuit along with two pairs of socks and hiding deep behind the large collars and hoods of the drysuit. It was time to break out the fisherman's gloves. These are essentially super thick marigolds with a fluffy lining. You can’t bend your fingers once they are on but they do the trick to keep the hands warm and dry. 

The down side to this cold was the limit it put on the social interaction between the two watches. We were generally pretty desperate to get off deck and down to the warmth below and our sleeping bags, As opposed to the first leg where the heat downstairs forced people up on deck into the breeze. It was also harder to have our team meetings as we didn’t all want to be sat on deck in the cold. 

So I shouldn’t really describe this next part as I will get an earful from my mother. During the race there was a need to replace our reef 3 line. This is the one furthest up the sail that shorten the sail down the most. Not wanting to lower the mainsail for fear of slowing down too much we decided it would be best for me to go up in a harness and re-thread a new line. Trouble is there isn’t much to hang on to up there. We were still sailing fast and at one point clocked 18 knots while I was up in there. Wozza on the helm also had a few waves to deal with and these would send me catapulting away from the sail. Some of the videos we took shows the violence of this. It is the only time I have felt scared on this boat. Although ultimately still very safe and I had an easy way out, there was a thought that this might be the way I would get injured and have to drop out the race. And that can’t happen.

We continued trucking along doing pretty well. We were mostly happy with how the boat was performing as we rode out the different weather patterns. With all the weather approaching from behind there was very little that could be done to avoid or manoeuvre away from it. 

As we drew in towards Cape Town it all started to get really exciting. With the boats narrowing in on the finish line and a final few days left the pressure mounted…..and we caved. We made two calls to our detriment. The first was being a little too scared to fly the spinnaker on one night. This allowed the other boats to put some miles on us. We went from being the back of the leading pack (4th) to the head of the chasing pack (4th). This also meant we had gone from chasing with nothing to lose to defending our position with everything to lose. Mistake two came a on the final night. We got caught in a bad patch of wind that was gusting heavily and causing the boat to repeatedly broach. As we struggled to get the boat under control and were heading in the right direction it gave our nearest rials, Seattle, time to sneak up on us,. As we recovered we decided to drop the kite and continue under white sails only. However, Seattle had seen our kite so decided to put theirs up. While we fought hard to keep up our boat speed and sail the same deep angles we couldn’t manage it and they edged away from us as the glow from Cape Town grew on the horizon. With a last ditch attempt we turned dead downwind and goose-winged the main and yankee (this is not a common approach on a race boat) meaning we could aim directly for the finials line. The idea was that with Seattle having to sail gybe angles back and forth and us going straight we night be able to make up the distance albeit at a slower pace. It worked…..but not well enough. We crossed the line 1.6miles and 27 minutes behind in 5th. 

Such mixed emotions. On one hand we had drastically improved from 9th to 5th without damaging the boat or sustaining any major injuries. We had learnt a lot about our sail plans and pushing the boat. But I was gutted to give away a place on the final hurdle. Does call into question what leg will suit us best to play our joker card…..but I’m not giving anything away. The enemy might be watching.

Cape Town has been absolutely awesome. This is really one of my favourite cities and having just been here in December last year I feel quite comfortable. Thanks to Kiara and Rich for an epic day trip through Beau and Groot Cosntantia and a little boogie at Cafe Caprice. I now have a couple days off to surf with the sharks and do a few cultural things. All suggestions welcome. 

Huge thank you to all have donated so generously particularly since the last leg - Wolfies and Gillian. And to Peripheral Life and Style Sunglasses and Elliot Brown Watches. If you want to buy a pair of Peripheral sunglasses please go online and “add me” to your basket before checkout, 50% of the proceeds will go to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation with my support.

Now I am keen to enjoy the last week here but absolutely beside myself with excitement for the next leg. Bring me the southern ocean. Our most direct route from here to Freemantle will take us well below the 40th parallel and therefore into the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is uninhibited by any land mass. Therefore the weather systems and waves build to mammoth sizes. This is not sailing for the faint hearted and I am told it separates the men from the boys. How hard can it be? How cold can it be? How big can the waves really be? For now all I have is stories and gossip from previous racers so we will have to go find out for ourselves.

Leg 1 - It's for real

Leg 1 - Liverpool, UK to Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Distance: 6,300 nautical miles (officially, much more in reality)

Number of souls on board: 24

Number of days at sea: 33

Finish position: 8th

We have arrived in Punta and what a good feeling that is. This first leg has lived up to all my expectations and more but it has also shed all apprehension about the length of the race as a whole. After 33 days I was not as excited to get off the boat as I expected to be. In fact, I could have easily just had a shower, a nap and headed straight back out on the water and started racing towards Cape Town. I love this race. Here are the highlights that have made it so.

Leg 1 Review

So this leg is a transatlantic crossing but mostly vertically as in down the length the of the entire north and south Atlantic….you know just because. We took off from Liverpool to great fanfare, a parade of sail and slightly un dramatic start as there was so little wind and so much tide that we had to motor across (sshh don’t tell the spectators they said). We quickly got settled into boat life in fact impressively so as I thought this would take everyone a little while. We then trundled down the Irish Sea and really didn’t do so well here as we ended up crossing the English Channel somewhere in 11th place. Ok, so we had a bit of work to do. 

Next up was traversing the ferocious Bay of Biscay. Our skipper pre-warned us that the Biscay has teeth and can bite hard. All we got was a gummy toddler gently sucking on a pinky finger. In fact, we had a brief wind hole. 

As we charged down the North Atlantic we got work trying to catch up with the fleet. Or not as the case was. What we did do though was a lot of rotation of roles on board. Especially as we started to get the spinnakers (codes) up we worked on getting all the crew comfortable helming and trimming particularly at night. Just to explain this, sometimes it's easier because there is a full bright moon to see the sail by and stars to line up with the mast or shrouds to keep on a course. Sometimes it's the opposite, thick dark cloud and no moon and you only have a compass and the instruments for wind speed & direction and your course to steer by. All these instruments are delayed so that they don’t swing around wildly with every little change in the wind and this results in a lot of overcorrection as the helms chase try to get in line with those numbers. We’re getting there and incredibly quickly I think.

So if you can imagine we are sailing down the Spanish and Portuguese coast (getting annoyed I didn’t make it to Lisbon to visit Fred and Maxi) past Tenerife and the Canaries and then parallel to the entrance to the Med. Then down along the coast of Africa outside the Cape Verde Islands towards the Doldrums crossing. This is where we had our big break. To sail between both halves of the Atlantic you have to cross the Doldrums/ITCZ/Intertropical convergence zone. This is where the trade winds on either side meet and is usually an area of little or no wind. With this in mind, Clipper put a corridor in place where we are allowed to use the engines within strict criteria. For us, this was all a bit skewed. The Doldrums had been pulled up higher by the developing Hurricane Irma. We were a little bit lucky as, from the back of the fleet, we could see the other boats parking up in the wind holes and managed to thread a tight line between two weather systems only getting caught in minor wind holes for a few hours and we came out in a much better position at 5th/6th. 

But all of this happened just before the motoring corridor. As we and the other boats sailed into this virtual corridor we were desperately trying to analyze the weather files in order to guess the right time to turn on the engine. We opted to sail on as long as we could and save our limited engine time. This didn’t work. Under the rules, once you have turned on the engine you must use it for the set distance and time regardless of whether you can sail faster without it or not. The weather changed and the others who had already used their engine time were able to sail on around us. Dammit. I have now bought three books on reading the weather to take on the next leg! Donations are being out to good use.

Once on the other side of the corridor the sailing was pretty straightforward. The wind was consistent and we continued to watch for developing patterns to try and take advantages. However, since everyone was in the same weather there were few positional changes at this time. 

About 6 days out from Punta it all got very exciting again with a developing wind hole. So now after 20 something days and 6,000nm there was the potential for the whole fleet to be equalized. Sensational. Team Liverpool tried to maneuver around and through the weather systems and needed up in a fierce battle for position with Team Garmin and Hotelplanner. This was exciting racing. 

During the race, we get position reports every 6 hours. We compare how everyone is doing and plot them onto our charts to see where each boat is positioned and how they are doing in the different weather. But every now and then we are close enough about 13-20 miles from another boat and they appear on our live chart plotter through AIS system. We can then see a live feed of their boat speed and course. And this is how we spent the last 3 days of the race with Garmin. Constant calls from the helm to the nav station…. “What speed are those *&£%^@% doing? What’s there course?” And then either cheers when we were doing better or angered attempts to re-trim the sails when we weren’t. This match race carried on and I spent two and half hours freezing in the dark rain on the helm trying to catch them on the final night. I only handed over the helm because I could no longer move the wheel my hands were so cold (well, it wasn’t that cold I was just severely underdressed having spent most of the leg in shorts and t-shirt).

We didn’t make it. Hotelplanner and Garmin both crossed the line in front of us. But as we came round the final corner where they both were still packing up. After six and half thousand miles of sailing and 33 days at sea we finished within 33 minutes of each. Insane. No way did I expect that. Certainly made finishing 8th a little easier to swallow. 

We were welcomed into Punta amazingly well. One of our crew members, Nano, is the Mayor of Punta del Este’s son. So this is his home port. This was his big moment and there were plenty of fans waiting, a small sea of pink lined the breakwater and chants for Liverpool could be easily heard. I made Nano get in the harness and we hoisted him up the mast with a large Uruguayan flag to wave as we waived other flags on the deck on his behalf. We also started chanting the Uruguayan national anthem which Nano had us working on for the last day and a half. 

Orientales la patria ooooo la tumba……

Crew and Fun

The Liverpool 2018 crew is awesome. Each and every one of them. There was only one low moment, one low day in the whole race. As Pat Rap attested that wouldn’t happen in a normal month back at home let alone when crammed into a 70ft can with 23 randoms only getting 2 hours sleep in every 8 hours.

I had only one low day after we tried a routine gybe in the early hours of the morning and got the Code 1 sheet caught. We didn’t manage to free it before a gust caught the spinnaker in the wrong position and tore it from two foot below the head all the way down both edges. I had never seen such a big hole in the sail and nearly cried. On the Clipper race if we can’t fix these things we are deducted race points. I thought for sure I had cost the team three points for not spotting this mistake. In fact, Mikey and Helen, our sail repairers, managed an incredible fix on the boat and we have not lost a single point for it. It better not happen again.

There was so much laughter throughout the entire leg. The weather was mostly good and the boat flat making daily life easy but it was all the jokes and laughter that made this such a good leg. Because of this, our cheeky skipper blogs and amusing crew blogs as well as our bonded team partying habits we are building a reputation as a fun team and seem to be pulling lots of others into our web. 

The best moments were shaving the mullet, the charges and fines in Neptunes court for the equator crossing, extreme iSpy and the jokes made laughing at each other - Storm Jib! Snatch Block!

Nature

We saw pods of dolphins. A couple of pilot whales, although nowhere near as many as I expected. Flying fish. Gannets that would follow the boat waiting for us to disturb the flying fish and then swoop in and chase them along the waves. A tiny little bird that stayed with us for 3 or 4 days - Captain Jack Sparrow (we no know he wasn’t a sparrow…or necessarily a he).

But the absolute best bit was the photoplankton or phosphorescence or bioluminescence or nauti-lucas (Spanish). This is little plankton in the see that light up when they are disturbed. If you have never seen it in Cayman do yourself a favour go on a Cayman Kayaks tour and I promise it is cheaper than Leg 1 of the Clipper Race. As we drive through the water at night the wake of the boat and the rudders cause the disturbance so the boat looks turbocharged with the glowing wake. In the Doldrums we had a few dolphins come by at night. In this glow they looked like torpedoes charging in and out from the boat like scenes from Pearl Harbour…..unfortunately the boat wasn’t moving fast enough for me to pretend I was Matt Damon in a fighter plane but this was the single, most beautiful and incredible moment of the whole trip. The approach to Punta was also pretty spectacular, I don’t know if it is off flow from the Rio Plata or not but the last evening's sail had such bright nautilucas that we could see all of the white caps. In the South Atlantic the nautilucas has this weird effect where little pockets of it explode like mini lightning clouds off the back of the boat. Tom Watling I will describe this in much detail when I am back…and thank you for your donation.

Watch leading

I was asked to be a watch leader on this leg due to my previous sailing experience. Actually, it’s terrifying to think I am one of the most experienced sailors on the boat at this stage. I can see Shrek and Grumps shaking their heads….well its everything I’ve learned from you. 

This basically made me, along with the Skipper and the other watch leader, in charge of the boat. We are trying to keep an eye on everyone's safety on the boat, do some coaching and mostly keep the boat going as fast as possible in the right direction. This includes making calls on when to change the sails or change direction and the three of us spend a fair amount of time in front of the chart plotter with the weather files both day and night. 

I haven’t been able to work out whether I enjoy this role or not. The responsibility scares me and some of the time I just wish to be up on the bow or driving the boat and listening to someone else’s instruction. Equally, I have enjoyed being so involved in the tactical decisions and trying to learn about weather routing. Feedback from the crew has been mostly positive as long as I put on my outdoor voice. My family won’t believe me but there have been no tears from any of my watch! So I will continue in the role as long as the crew and skipper want me there. 

Daily life

Most of this sailing was totally glorious. Shorts and t-shirts. Tan lines from the lifejackets. Sleeping in either a puddle of sweat because it is so hot down below and all you have is a tiny battery powered fan or by wedging yourself in between the sails in the sail locker because the hatch is open and there is an ounce of breeze flowing through the boat. Every couple of days we would attach the firehose and pump and have a pressure washer type saltwater shower at the back of the boat and spray the decks to cool the boat down. Because of the warm calm weather at times we were able to do a fair amount of clothes washing as well so slightly fresher boxers and t-shirts were an absolute delight. 

However, there are two sides to daily life on these boats depending on the conditions. When we are downwind sailing in relatively calm weather the boat is flat. This makes cooking and daily chores like cleaning the heads, brushing teeth and emptying the bilges pretty easy. You can get better sleep. Everyone is happy and full of energy. The opposite is upwind sailing into a bit of breeze and waves. The boat is at times at a 35 - 45 degree angle. Literally. And bouncing or slamming off the waves. The wet floors become an ice rink. And simply moving around the boat takes strength and effort. Your sleep becomes more interrupted and people start to get a lot more tired. We were pretty lucky on this leg that there were only very short stints of this type of sailing, Only a couple of days at a time. I am told this is the big battle for the next two legs. Wish me luck.

Punta

We have been in Punta for a week and a half now and we leave for Cape Town on the 4th. It has been amazing here. Thanks to Nano and his family for looking after me. We have been partying a lot with all the crews. We have been to an asado (braai, bbq) for the whole fleet and another just with Nano’s family. The Uruguayans own every other nation in terms of doing a bbq right. Check out some of the photos. In Nano’s house there is an entire granny flat in the garden dedicated to the asado grill. 

Thanks

Thank you to all who have donated, sent messages of support and comments. Apologies if I have been short with replies. The donations have been amazing. Allowing me to get a much needed hotel room for some time off and to sleep in a real bed not my bunk on the boat. And big thanks to the care packages received from my folks and Peta, Tom and Matt. Thanks go Dani and Neil for all the photos.

Thanks to Elliot Brown for a truly awesome watch. Peripheral Life and Style for the awesome sunnies. Check out both these companies and my poser photos for their stuff and you too can look as cool as me on a boat.

Leg 0 - Get packing

Here is the kit I am taking for the next year of sailing. I am limited to 20Kgs but this doesn't include my foul weather gear, sailing boots, dry suit or sleeping bag. 

I made a little video to illustrate the kit and quick demo of "getting ready for a day in the southern ocean i.e. the works. 

Special thanks to Peripheral for all the sunglasses. These are light, tough, plastic framed, polarized sunglasses perfect for sailing. Thanks to Zhik for a discount on the boots. Thanks to Musto for helping with almost all the kit. Thanks to Elliot Brown for an indestructible watch.

So far the items I am most excited about are listed below:

- Musto waterproof, fleece lined, peaked cap - this is warm, dry and you can keep the ear flaps out the way if you need to hear what is going on. If the hood on your jacket is up the peak helps to move the hood with your head.

- Musto dry suit - no chance to wear it yet and I have certainly haven't mastered getting it on and off but I think this will be little cocoon.

- Musto fleece mid layer.

- Fishing/Driving gloves - waterproof and warm for cold nights on the helm.

I will let you know what works and what doesn't once I have gone through the range of temperatures from equator to southern ocean,

Leg 0 - Race Prep, Let's Go

I have no clue to where to start these musings but bear with me. Having finished at work (the legendary Estera Cayman), packed up the Cayman life and decamped back in the UK things got really fun. 

I have been able to catch up with tons of friends mostly apologising for hiding across the Atlantic for the last 4 years. Best of all these were Flora and Steino’s, Jack and Alice’s and Sam and Tasha’s weddings. Thank you all for having me. 

Sometimes repetitive but never tedious, there was a lot of talk about the Clipper race at all these catch ups which just got me silly excited - coupled with 4 weeks of training in-between I cannot wait for the start in Liverpool on Sunday 20th August.

We are the bright pink boat aka The Pink Panther, CV20, Liverpool 2018, Team Lance, Team Heather.

Training

The Clipper training is pretty damn good. The training skippers are extraordinary, they are hugely qualified and can keep calm when teaching 20 sailing novices (not all who totally grasp the English language) on board a 70ft 34-ton yacht on occasion in a Force 8 gale. Shout out to Dave W, Dale, Paul, Spanish Alex, Nigel and Carol. 

Every crew member must do the same four weeks of training to ensure consistency. So no matter your sailing background you have to do it all. The Clipper training puts a lot of emphasis on the safety aspects and we have now all completed RYA Sea Survival course and an ISAF offshore survival course along with our RYA competent crew certificate not to mention countless man over board drills. 

These MOB drills are pretty thrilling. Each boat has a life size and weight man overboard dummy, usually called Bob. Bob is about as surefooted as Bambi on ice and never seems to be tethered to the boat. At any random moment, the training skippers may give him a gentle push over the side and the crew has to spring into action. The real life practice has been invaluable and gives us all a lot of confidence in the rest of our team mates in case anyone does go over - fingers crossed I will never write about that.

During all this training we have crossed the English Channel a number of times, sailed round the Isle of Wight and had everything from 1-knot wind to 44 knots. We have worn through mooring lines in the middle of the night, snapped staysail sheets and even knocked the West Shambles cardinal (a giant metal buoy) which had us checking for a hole in the boat before the race has even bloody started!

I have also volunteered/been nominated as the medical assistant on board. This meant 2 extra days training to practise putting in IV drips and sewing up pigs trotters. My two failed attempts at medical school definitely prepared me well for this role.

But the best bit has been meeting so many fantastic new people both on my team and on the other boats who I will be sharing this journey with over the next year. 

So on to Punta Del Este, Uruguay. I’ll check in once I’ve got settled there. Thank you all for the support and encouragement so far (especially those who have donated and “bought me a beer”) and thanks as always to Peripheral Life and Style sunglasses and Musto.

Elliot Brown

I applied and have been chosen to be one of the two ambassadors for Elliot Brown Watches (www.elliotbrownwatches.com). I love these guys watches. They are pretty damn tough and they prove this by fixing a number of them to the clipper boats going round the world.

So there will probably be a significant amount of shameless product placement in photos and videos. Check them out, they are awesome.

Leg 0 - Boat Tour

I have had a lot of questions about the boat itself. Here is a video tour for you all.

Stats

  • Tony Castro design specifically for Clipper. FRP construction.
  • 70ft long, 18.6ft wide, a 95ft mast and just short of a 10ft draft with a 12-ton keel.
  •  Stripped down racing boat with 24 bunks - no cabins, no doors on the bathrooms, no showers.
  • Top speed in the last race - 33 knots.

Interior

This video starts at the front (bow) and works backwards. There is a large sail and rope locker going back into the galley and saloon towards the accommodation area (aka the ghetto because of the smell) and finally at the very back is the navigation station.

As we will be using some of the more forward bunks for storage there won't be enough bunks for all of the crew at any one time so we will be hot bunking - when one person gets out to go on the deck their "bunk buddy" comes off deck and climbs in.

Exterior

Lots of winches. Lots of ropes, sheets, lines, halyards. And a couple of grinding pedestals to power the winches. Not a lot of protection from spray and waves other than the high sides of the boat. Clipper operating procedure is for lifejackets to be worn at all times on deck and for all crew to be tethered to the boat in anything above 15 knots of breeze.

Leg 0 - Leopard 3 Delivery

I had an awesome opportunity to join Leopard 3 and her crew to make the delivery from Antigua to Bermuda ahead of the the America's Cup and Bermuda Superyacht Regatta as a warm up for the Clipper Race.

Leopard 3 is a 100ft carbon fibre racing machine and will easily better true wind speed in racing mode. With a mainsail the size of a tennis court, a canting keel and all hydraulic powered winches, I had never sailed anything like it and it was insane. 

We had very light winds to start but once we got cracking it was dreamy sailing. There is no other feeling like it - surfing across 4ft swell with the wind at 120T in beautiful sunshine and bright blue water - this is what they call champagne sailing. Short video below

Leg 0 - The first post

So you've worked out my name is James and my website is macandtack.com. You've probably also worked out that my plan is to sail round the world as part of the Clipper Round the World Race (to give it its official title). Well this is where I will keep you updated with the journey and tell the stories. But first some background. www.clipperroundtheworld.com 

I am a British born 30 year old male. Snooze. I had a "very tough" upbringing in the Caribbean moving between Barbados, Antigua and the Cayman Islands and went to a boarding school in the UK from age 10. At this age I started learning to sail and I owe most of it to three people - Matt Whittaker (1st instructor), David Carmichael (taught me most of what I know) and of course my father (supplying the boats, the funding and not to mention offering a top tip or two along the way).

I have never done huge amounts of serious racing under sail. Just a lot of pottering around in the South Sound or Grand Cayman on a Laser Pico or a Hobie Cat and the odd bits of club J22 racing at the CISC.

My most notable sailing accomplishment is a transatlantic crossing when I was 18. Particularly in failing to notify my mother properly that the short trip from Antigua to the BVI had snowballed quite dramatically to Antigua to St Tropez. I think the folks were relieved to receive a call from the bank saying their credit card was being used in the Azores - at least I had made it that far!

So why the Clipper race? I have dreamed about sailing the world since reading Pete Goss's book of his Vendee Globe race. I was drawn to the idea of offshore sailing by my love of the sea and the idea of man vs the gruelling elements and the camaraderie this brings. However, round the world sailing seems to be prohibitively expensive unless you're a retiree with a blue-water bucket list, or an elite sailor. The Clipper race is ground breaking in making it accessible for amateurs. 

I first heard about the race 7 years ago after starting my KPMG career in Manchester. My then boss, Claire Needham, was doing leg 2 and leg 7 of the race. Since then it has been stuck on my mind and I have been constantly saving towards it - despite life's determination to provide many cash-depleting distractions along the way.

Now I have finally got the funds together, signed up, left the job and am about to start the training weeks, totally psyched to spend a year away from the desk on the open ocean and hopefully crossing off my number one life goal.

I do have a few quick thank yous to say at the start as I wouldn't be here without their support. Obviously the family but I will give them my own soppy thank you when I set off. 

Current employer Estera Trust (Cayman) Limited and Julian Black for great support and encouragement. Not once did they doubt my intention or try to change my mind, in fact Julian has worked very hard to proactively support me. www.estera.com 

Sophie Benbow for this incredible website. She has put far more time into designing this than I ever expected. Sophie is Cayman based social media consultant so get in touch with her for some sound advice - links on the main page. www.lusticlife.com

Douglas 'JR' Cameron and the Peripherals team for for helping me to raise funding through the sale of sunglasses - so far we have already donated $500 to Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Please check out the donations page for more info. www.peripherlls.com 

At this point I don’t know how often I will post and what format I will alert you all to my new posts. But for now sign up to the mailing list on the home page, follow me on instagram or Facebook and check back here periodically. I am sure I will try to grab your attention through one of these platforms.