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.