Regular readers (or at least those who are quick off the mark accessing this blog) will have spotted the deliberate mistake on Thursday of the Blog Post title that appeared ……….. with NO supporting text ………. and then almost just as quickly ……. disappeared. This was actually less “deliberate” and more “mistake” to be honest and removal wasn’t quite quick enough to stop one US reader commenting that it was a quick read to say the least and not quick enough to stop the CEO at Harwich asking how I had published whilst also simultaneously attending a Board meeting. Again, for regular readers, I WAS sitting facing away from the view (see Blog 37: Bravo Zulu Tian Fu ….. and another “This time next year” blog post …..” published 9 Dec 18).
The truth of the matter is, having used the facility to pre-programme a date and time to publish this blog, the rest of my life got in the way (two nights at home in the last 2 weeks) and I got no further than the title. Normal service is hereby resumed 🙂
240 race crew for the 2019-2020 edition of the race plus 150 race crew supporters gathered in the Nursery End pavilion at Lords Cricket ground in London last Saturday, 19 Jan, for the first major Clipper event of 2019 – the January Crew Briefing.
And if you are particularly quick you can spot me and/or Ruth four times in the following short video:
Official photo were taken – ultimately for the 2019-2020 clipperroundtheworld.com website when it goes live – those of us who visited the Musto store after Level 1 training were able to collect our Race Crew soft shell jackets (see Blog 24: Does/Will My Bum Look Big In This?” published 28 Sep 18), – Ruth completed a chop-stick challenge!!!! –
and there was a great opportunity to catch up with “old” friends from Level 1 and Level 2 training (Smita, Janine, Guido, Rob, Jo) and to make new friends/connections. I think I missed Meta in the crowds and, having read their subsequent blogs, I know that regular fellow-bloggers Heather Broadbent (www.dreamitnowdoit.com) and Sam at Farncombe (www.farncombeadventure.blog) were also present. Heather is a “circumnavigator” and right now is in Gibraltar completing her RYA Day Skipper practical course. Sam writes under the sub-heading of “George and John’s Boating Trip – A Land-lubbers Guide to the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race” as her husband, John, and son, George, are BOTH circumnavigating in the next edition. Apparently George signed up first! Oh, and for the record, Jo and Smita are also both blogging at http://www.jojosclipperjourney.com and http://www.sadmummy.com respectively. Not surprisingly I follow them all.
We had a whole series of useful presentations. Sir Robin Knox-Johnson spoke twice to kick things off and round things up – and threatened to test us on our knots! Laura Ayres, the Head of Partnerships, spoke about Clipper Race Partnerships – primarily team partners (essentially the name on the side of the boat) and Team Supporters (Seattle Yacht Club supporting the yacht Visit Seattle in the last edition for example) and Host Port Partners (essentially the 15 or so ports the Clipper fleet will visit). As part of my crew contract, I will be asked to support some of the partner activities and there are also Ambassador Opportunities whereby crew members can sign up to represent a “brand” during the race. It strikes me that all I have to do now is drop Hendricks Gin or Jaguar-Land rover a line (or maybe even both!) and all of a sudden phenomenal seas in the North Pacific in March/April 2020 could become rather more tollerable. Dinner guests at home last night who joked about Ann Summers or Victoria Secrets Ambassador Opportunities will, I hope, be sorely disappointed! Watch this space; more about Ambassador Opportunities at Crew Allocation in May.
The Senior Programme Management Specialist for UNICEF, Kate Cotton, spoke about the work of UNICEF – The Official Charity Partner for Clipper 2019-20. I’ll write more about UNICEF in future blogs but, in addition to my own charity fundraising efforts for the National Autistic Society and Diabetes UK (see http://www.justgiving.com/teams/keithsclipperadventure), I will be joining my fellow Clipperees aiming to reach a target figure of £400K for Unicef in 2019-2020. Sarah Hoare, the Clipper Race Manager took us all through what happens in port, Julia Fry, the Head of Global Communications spoke about the official website, skipper and crew blogs and TV coverage. She also showed a short clip about the previous crossing of the North Pacific – cue some gasps and somewhat nervous laughter from some in the audience who had not previously seen it. I had originally scheduled it to appear on these pages as part of my “One Year From Now/This time next Year” blogs in April of this year but what the heck ……….. here it is!!!!
Deputy Race Director (and skipper of Dare To Lead in the last Race) Dale Smyth talked us through the race scoring system, the “joker”, scoring gates, ocean sprints, stealth mode and penalty points all of which will become much more familiar as the race draws near and all designed to provide a little “tactical edge” to decisions made by skippers and crew during the race itself. Ruth Charles, the Race Crew Supporters Coordinator spoke to us all about the huge role played by Race Crew Supporters and it was fantastic that so many were present. In brief, Race Crew Supporters is a network for the family and friends of anyone taking part in the race to follow and support their particular Clipperee. Ruth, who was a circumnavigator in the 2015-16 edition, coordinates all this for all who wish to follow the race more closely from shore. I will write more about this – maybe in the very next blog!
The meat of the presentation came from the Race Director, Mark Light, particularly in what he was able to say about the route and timings for 2019-2020. In fairness most race crew were eager for more news on dates and ports in order to take our personal planning forward. Understandably, there is much still being negotiated and Mark’s entirely reasonable line is that he would prefer to give information that is 100% accurate (or as near to) rather than 70% or so and still subject to commercial (and potentially sensitive) discussions. All that said here’s what it looks like so far:
UK Race Start – Start date will be between mid-August and very early September and this will be determined by the Race Route as a whole.
Leg 1 – will be made up of two races (last edition was only one) down and across the North and South Atlantic Oceans to South America. This may be two stops in South America OR one pitstop in Europe and then onto South America. OK so that’s the party line; what does this mean to me? Firstly I think this points to Uruguay in South America and possibly Punta del Este (used for the first time in the last race). Not really much more than a guess on my part but personally significant in that this South American port (wherever it is) is where I will start Leg 2.
Leg 2 – will be one race across the South Atlantic Ocean to South Africa and highly likely to be into Cape Town. This is pretty much as expected (see Blog 25: This time next year. Video … Leg 2, Race 2, Across the South Atlantic, published 4 Oct 18). My plan will be to stay in Cape Town during the stopover ready for Leg 3.
Leg 3 – will be one race across the Indian and Southern Oceans to Western Australia and the briefing confirmed that this will be into the port of Freemantle. Again, as expected (see Blog 30: This time next year ….. Leg 3, Race 3, The Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride, a 2 video taster, published 31 Oct 18). After a short period I will return to the UK from Freemantle.
Leg 4 – will be one race (changed from the last edition) from Freemantle into the Southern Ocean heading south of Tasmania, before north across the Bass Strait and then up to Eastern Australia with the port tbc. Mark confirmed that the 2019-2020 edition of the Race will NOT be taking part in the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.
Leg 5 – more changes this time around. This leg will consist of 3 races. Firstly Eastern Australia up through the Doldrums and across the Equator back into the Northern Hemisphere to Sanya in China. This will be followed by a short sprint race to a port in South East Asia. After a pit-stop, there will be a further sprint race to the Clipper Race’s newest Host Port of Zhuhai in China. This will be a crew changeover port and, significantly for me, this is where I will rejoin the race for Leg 6.
Leg 6 – Having “confidently” predicted Zhuhai would not feature in Leg 6 (see Blog 18: First 2019-2020 stopover announced ….. Zhuhai ….. yes I had to look it up too, published 26 Aug 18) leg 6 will begin in Zhuhai and then consist of two races – the tough beat east of Taiwan and north up to Qingdao in China before the BIG ONE crossing the mighty North Pacific Ocean across to the West Coast of America. This port is yet to be confirmed but, wherever it is, once more I will disembark.
Leg 7 – will be two races (as per last time) from the West Coast US down to Panama. After gathering the fleet in Panama, the yachts transit the Panama Canal and then start the second race north to East Coast US. This has tended to be into New York and this (wherever it is) will be where I will rejoin the race for the final leg.
Leg 8 – will consist or either two OR three races (last edition was two) and includes the final ocean crossing, across the North Atlantic Ocean, whilst heading back to Europe and potentially Ireland (tbc). The final race will be the homecoming stage, seeing the fleet back into the Race Finish port in the UK.
The refitting of the current fleet continues and Level 4 training dates have been published. Subject to final confirmation after crew allocation, I am programmed to complete Level 4 training, hopefully in my race yacht with my race skipper and race crew, 9-15 July. Over 200 professional skippers from all over the world have applied to skipper a yacht in the 2019-2020 edition. Tough and pressurised interviews and on-water trials will soon reduce this number to 15 and the final 11 will be confirmed in March and announced later that month. There then follows a formal contract of employment with Clipper Venture plc and a 22 week in-house Clipper training before race start.
For them, and for all of us Race Crew, the official countdown for Clipper 2019-2020 has now begun. Can’t wait!