I know, you’ve not been able to sleep wondering about the crew briefing last Saturday. I’m afraid that all was not revealed although we did have a good day. You can see the crowds on the header, there were 240 crew and 150 supporters in attendance at Lords Cricket Ground.
The first thing everyone involved in the race was to pick up their soft-shell Musto jackets. Here’s John looking very proud.
They all wore them with pride, we could see from the back who was who (apart from us poor souls).
We did not manage to meet Keith (see his blog prettymuchallatsea for lots of good details on sailing) but Heather found us, I think she went round with her phone looking at all the men to see if they matched the photo George had sent her (they were on level two together). I have to confess that I said “oh, that looks like our kitchen” rather than “oh that looks like John”. Heather’s blog is dreamitnowdoit and that’s exactly what she’s doing. For me it was great to meet a landlubber in the same (non) boat, being left behind whilst they go off around the world. Mind you, everyone I talked to said they preferred the sound of my adventure (turn left on plane and check into five star hotels with nice bathrooms) than the rough and tough of the boats.
Before we even arrived, John got into the mood by buying a magazine we’ve never tried before.
So what did we learn on the day? Everyone can expect to have an injury at some time during the race, with luck not serious but enough to keep the “medics” on board busy. Now there’s only 7 months left we all need to start focussing. This means KNOTS: Sir Robin said he goes round at each port with a piece of rope, if you can’t tie the knot he asks for you’re on the plane back home! The crew will end up not just sailors but all-round seamen.
Regarding the actual race route, it’s still being formalised. It will be roughly the same as last time with a UK start. The start date is probably mid-August to early September depending on the ports chosen. As soon as destinations are known it will be posted on the Clipper website.
Leg 1 will have two races to South America, potentially two stopovers in South America or one in Europe and one in South America. It will be the first equator crossing so anyone who’s not done it before can expect to be involved in a ceremony appeasing the Gods (don’t know why, maybe I’ll do a bit of research and get back to you on this).
Leg 2 is one race to South Africa, most likely stopping at Cape Town. Leg 3 is one race to Freemantle and Leg 4 one race to the East Coast, port not yet confirmed. The fleet will NOT join the Sydney-Hobart race on Boxing Day (December 26th) as they’ve done the last few times.
Leg 5 is probably three races, across the top of the Philippines to Sanya, a short fast race to another port with a pit-stop then a short sprint to Zhuhai where there will be a longer stop and crew change for the leggers. Leg 6 is two races, to Qingdao (short but tough) then over to the West Coast of the USA (port not yet finalised).
Leg 7 follows down the West Coast to Panama, where the race finishes and the fleet meet up for the Panama Canal transit. They then race up to an as-yet-unknown port on the US East Coast. Finally, leg 8 is back to the UK, possibly consisting of two or three races with all ports to be confirmed.
A bit of light relief before more details: even though I did not get a supporter’s jacket (may suggest they create these?) I did have some very appropriate earrings in my collection that I wore for the day.
Back to the race. The fleet is currently in Gosport being refitted. Each yacht needs about eight weeks to be fully fitted: everything is ripped out, checked, serviced or replaced as necessary. This will take until June, in time for the Level Four training (racing in the right boat with the correct crew and skipper to get used to each other). There is no need for anti-fouling as a copper coating was put onto the boats previously and this works well: in earlier races, someone would have to dive under the boat to remove all the barnacles and seaweed and mermaids trapped there.
Once this is done, all that is needed is fuel, water, gas, food and the crew. Talking of which, you may have noticed that someone is missing.