People of a “certain” age know where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. Others know where they were and what they were doing when Neil Armstrong took his “one small step.” Maybe you can remember your first day at school? When you moved house. When you decided to change jobs. Can you remember what you were doing when the last “significant” event happened in your life? When you made that last decision to DO something really significant, adventurous, challenging and exciting?
Well “Clipper” came to me ……………………………………………………. on a golf course. Actually to be really accurate ….. in the Clubhouse over a beer but you get the idea. Ironically it was a golf course in a county with no coastline and couldn’t be further from the sea. Indeed the only maritime link it has is “Aqua” in the name and water on 6 of its holes which my golf ball has a pretty unerring ability to find on those occasions when I am not trying to hack it out of the trees.
A chap called Ron Biggs was responsible. Not to be confused with The Great Train Robber of the same name, despite a criminal tendency when it comes to recording golf scores, Ron passed me the official guide to the Clipper 2017-2018 Race and I was hooked. I read it from cover to cover and never said a word. Sure I had heard of Clipper before and I do recall seeing the “Achieve Something Remarkable” posters on the Underground in London. But I’d never really had the opportunity before. Nor for that matter the inclination. And ….. that slight nagging voice in my head pointed out …… you could count the number of time I’ve been afloat in a yacht in the last 35 years on the fingers of one hand. So for the moment I kept my council.
And so I read ……. and I googled……. and I visited the Clipper website ………. and I talked about it with Ruth ……….. and one night I drove across to Leeds to listen to a crew briefing and meet people who had done all or part of the Race in the past, and some more people who were thinking about racing in the future. Some time ago Ruth had bought me an RYA Day Skipper all-in-one course at Plas Menai in the Menai Straits (Why she did this is maybe a subject for a future blog!) and so off I went to try out this sailing malarkey. I was determined that if I didn’t like sailing (unlikely) or sailing didn’t like me (possible) that would kick thoughts of Clipper into touch and no one would be any the wiser…………….. within a week I was heading down to Clipper HQ for my interview!
What followed ….. contract, medical, insurance, off to the Small Boats Club in London with Ruth and then Clipper Level 1 training (and a small accident) will all follow in subsequent blogs!