I apologise for any typos in what follows………
A couple of days ago I woke to the heartening realisation that I had regained some of my sight. Only a slight improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. I can now see facial features within about 3 feet, which is good news ……… depending, of course, on who you are looking at! That was progress enough to prompt reaching for the razor and for removal, careful removal, of the beard!
However, that good news was tempered the following day, 17th March, with the news that Clipper plc have “pulled the plug” on the current edition of the Race, at least for the remainder of this year! The official Clipper announcement read as follows:
” With the ongoing global outbreak of Covid-19 and the enormous impact it has created on world wide travel, the Clipper 2019-20 Race has been postponed with immediate effect.
This decision has been in no way taken lightly. Our crew are currently under quarantine in Subic Bay, Philippines, where the Clipper Race fleet has been berthed since Sunday 15 March. The island of Luzon (where Subic Bay is located) is currently under ‘enhanced community quarenteed.’
In addition, the fleet was due to race across the North Pacific Ocean from 21 March towards Seattle. However, with the city currently in a state of emergency and travel and medical insurance restrictions in the United States, we could not allow our teams to depart without a viable destination. This, along with the growing global uncertainty on how the situation could develop in the coming months, meant postponing the race was the safest option for all involved.
Our first priority, as soon as the local quananteen has been lifted, will be to assist our crew in Subic Bay in travelling home from the Philippines as swiftly as possible.
The Clipper 2019-20 Race has three legs remaining. These stages will now be postponed for approximately ten months, when the remaining circumnavigation will be completed. This length of postponement allows for us to avoid adverse weather patterns on the remainder of our global route.
All Leg 6, 7 and 8 crew, along with our circumnavigators, will be able to rejoin the race when it resumes next year, All crew must complete refresher trading ahead of their joining leg. The postponement will have an impact on the timing of future races. The next full edition of the Clipper Race will start in the summer of 2022. More details on this will be confirmed at a later date.
We are extremely disappointed to postpone the remainder of the Clipper 2019-20 Race. We are proud of all our intrepid crew for having competed in this edition since it departed London, and look forward to welcoming all of our upcoming crew next year when the race continues. We are also grateful to all our crew, supporters and Race Paerners for their continued support.”
The Subic Bay quarantine saw all crews confined to the yachts/pontoons. Once lifted, the boats have been moth-balled and crews have made their way to homes across the world. I have been tracking the progress of my UNICEF team mates and friends in other yachts via various WhatsApp groups and social media. Holly Williams was the last crew member to leave UNICEF and the Skipper and AQP were amongst the last to leave the Philippines, I chatted with Danny Lee as he waited for a flight from Manila airport (others got out via Clark) and Angie arrived safely back in New Zealand around the time NZ closed the country to non-nationals. I know of at least one Brit trying to get to Canada via the US. At one point I commented that it was like watching some international version of The Great Escape, only to be told by John Dawson (my Mother Watch buddy from Durban to Fremantle on Leg 3) that the minibuses used to get crew out of Subic were stopped by road blocks along the routes to the airports, everyone had to get out, and their temperatures were taken at the roadside by Filipino soldiers! Mike Miller has described the experience of departure as a surreal dash through deserted paddy fields to catch one of the last flights out. Holly finally made it back to San Francisco (via Dubai!) late last night UK time.
The world is already a very different place in the 2 weeks since I lost the sight in my left eye. Clipper crew are rapidly adjusting to the “blank diary syndrome” I wrote about in my previous blog. In virtually all cases it is now “locked-down blank diary syndrome.” Circumnavigators, virtually all of whom will have given up jobs and most of whom will have sold/rented out accommodation, must now find something to do for at least the next 10 months. It will be interesting to see how many of us are in a position to resume Clipper next year and, given the pace of recent events, predicting anything 10 months out is too risky a business.
For the moment then I guess I had better rewrite the Home page of this website and, while I’m at it, update my JustGiving pages. And speaking of JustGiving, a huge congratulations to Graham Scarborough of team UNICEF. Graham’s wife, Lindy, has already done much in producing silver pennants and earrings (See Blog 70: Advert time…. go on, its for a great cause, published 2 August 2019). Graham, who I worked with on various projects during Prep Week back at the beginning of August last year (See Blog 86: Time Travel …… or rather TIME to wind back the clock, while I TRAVEL, published 7 October 2019), has just secured a donation of £20,000 to our UNICEF UK fund raising from a charitable foundation called the Birrane Foundation which was set up a good friend of Graham’s.Apart from the sum, which takes our team total pretty close to £100,000 (by FAR the most achieved by ANY boat in the fleet) this is all the more remarkable given that it was achieved in the midst of the current global/Clipper turmoil AND given that Graham has yet to complete in the race. He was due to join the yacht in Seattle in April.
To be continued ………….
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:
for UNICEF UK see
Please take a look. (To be updated!) Thank You.