Portsmouth News 7th May
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the
world, can never be accused of leading a boring existence. His philosophy is
‘You’ve only got one life, so why not paint it in bright colours?’ he says.
‘Don’t use pastel shades. Make the most of it – get out there, throw
yourselves into it!’
He’s talking about the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, an event he
founded that gives people from all walks of life the chance to sign up to race
40,000 miles around the world.
More than 360 adventurers travelled
from across the globe to
Southampton last weekend to
discover which of the 10 teams
competing in the race they will
Three-quarters of the 489 men and
women who will be taking part in
this gruelling challenge of a lifetime
came together to meet their skippers
and new team-mates, travelling from as far afield as Singapore, Australia, New
York and Chile.
The crews come from backgrounds as varied as marketing executives, nurses,
bankers, carpenters, IT specialists, engineers and chief executives,
representing more than 40 nationalities. Almost half of them had never sailed
before embarking on their training for the world’s longest ocean race.
Last Saturday the reality of their participation in the race truly begins to kick
in; with a skipper in place, team strategies start to take shape, roles are
assigned to the crew and, with not long to the race start on July 31, the
countdown is on.
The race, organised by a team based in Gosport, will be contested by 10
identical stripped-down 68-foot racing yachts, each sponsored by a city,
region or country. Already confirmed for Clipper 11-12 are the Keppel
Corporation-sponsored Singapore and, representing China’s Olympic sailing
city, Qingdao, both entering the race for the fourth time.
Returning for a second time is Visit Finland, backed by the Finnish Tourist
Board. And making their debut in the race are Derry-Londonderry, celebrating
their status as UK City of Culture 2013, and De Lage Landen, sponsored by the
global provider of asset-based financing programmes of the same name and
which will race under the Dutch flag. The names of the remaining five yachts
will be revealed in the coming weeks.
This will be the eighth time that Sir Robin’s teams of amateur sailors will
circumnavigate the planet, taking the number of people who have taken part
to almost 3,000. He wanted to make ocean racing available to everyone,
regardless of nationality or background.
This year’s crews will put themselves in the expert hands of 10 professional
skippers entrusted with getting their yachts around the world and safely
Sir Robin says: ‘Leading a team in a race around the world is one of the
hardest and most challenging jobs that any skipper could ever undertake and
we’re confident our 10 skippers are up to this challenge.
‘They have all been through a lengthy and rigorous selection process and we
have chosen a group of exceptional individuals as our race skippers.
‘They have the ability to draw the line between competitiveness and safety
while, at the same time, motivating the crew to retain their focus during races
lasting several weeks at a time, whether it be through roaring gales and
towering seas or the frustration of tricky calm spells.’
One of the crew members is Darren Hicks from Portsmouth. The 29-year-old
technical account manager is doing legs seven and eight of the global voyage.
Darren says: ‘I have always been passionate about the sea and really want to
challenge myself with something life-changing. How could I not?’
So what is he most looking forward to?
‘There’s not much that I’m not looking forward to, but I think flying halfway
round the world and sailing back is pretty immense. Also I’m looking forward
to building some great new friendships.’
But Darren knows it’s going to be a massive test.
‘The hardest part of the trip will be getting used to life on board. Initially it will
be a steep learning curse with close quarters, 24-hour racing, adapting sleep
patterns etc. But that is also a big part of the challenge I’m looking for.’
Another man who has signed up for the adventure is Ian Geraghty. The 52-
year-old event manager from Southsea is doing the complete voyage and
says: ‘I’m doing this to fulfill a lifetime ambition to circumnavigate the
He adds: ‘I’m looking forward to the competitive element, the physical and
mental challenge, plus the excitement of visiting new places and meeting new
Ian thinks the hardest part of the trip will be working ‘effectively and
competitively’ 24 hours a day as a team and team member.