My late father volunteered for service in the British Army immediately after the Second World War and shortly after his own father was de-mobbed from the RAF following wartime service. The fact that Dad would have been called up anyway is not the point. He was proud of the fact he volunteered. He was offered a Commission in the Pay Corps and service in Scotland which he turned down, expressing a strong desire for service in the Far East. In a move all too familiar to anyone who has served in the British military, the powers-that-be promptly shipped him off to northern Germany for 3 years in the Royal Signals!
He only ever gave me one piece of military advice. Shortly before I left home he told me to be, “careful what you volunteer for.” In his opinion, a volunteer was often someone who, ”didn’t understand the question in the first place.” I followed this advice if you are prepared to overlook the fact that I did once volunteer for UN service in Cambodia only to end up doing a UN tour with the British Army during the fighting in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in the early/mid 1990s!!! So let’s overlook that one. Wind forward to late January/early February 2022 and the first of three Zoom calls with the UNICEF team preparing for the restart of the Clipper race. Ian and Dan were already in the Philippines and the rest of us were getting ready to join them. We “met” some of the new crew members joining the team for the first time and discussed plans and tactics. It was during this video call that we first discussed the possibility of playing our “Joker” on arguably the toughest Leg of the circumnavigation. I’ll come back to that in a future blog. During this first call the subject of ”additional duties” came up, and in particular (as far as this blog is concerned) the role of Team Coordinator, a role normally/previously undertaken by a round-the-worlder but now ”vacant” as a result of the impact of a 2 year delay to the Race.
“We need to appoint a new TC,” said Ian. There then followed something of a deafening silence. Ian held his nerve. Eventually I broke cover and offered the suggestion that, ideally, because of the role, the new TC should be someone completing all of the remaining Legs – 6, 7 and 8. Unfortunately I didn’t stop there………. Warning!….. school-boy error coming up accompanied by mental picture of Dad rolling his eyes to the sky ………. I went on to say that as I was doing two of the three remaining Legs I would be, “happy to assist.” And with that we moved on. Wind forward again about a week to our second Zoom call and fairly soon after we started proceedings Ian announces that ”Commo,” …….. ”Yes?” I remember thinking ……. ”Commo is going to be the new TC.” Thankfully my microphone was on mute and somewhere I could imagine my Dad roaring with laughter.
According to the official blurb the role of the TC is as follows.
“The Team Coordinator Role, more commonly known as TC, is there to support the communication between the whole team, crew onboard, crew leaving, crew joining, the skipper and the Race officials/office. The TC helps the skipper with yacht administration and organisation.” The instructions go on to say that this is a “varied role requiring good planning and time-management skills, integrity and tact!” The exclamation mark is mine. The full instructions run to about 3 pages and I wont bore you with all the detail, but one of the most important roles (at least as far as everyone else onboard is concerned) is deciding who gets which bunk and who they will be sharing with as bunk buddies and designing the onboard jobs rota for each race of each Leg. And all this has to await Watch allocation which generally follows refresher training and crew assessment. There is the additional complication of not knowing exactly how long each race/leg is going to take, further complicated on Leg 6 by the international date line and on Leg 7 by 5 separate finish line options and a Panama canal transit the date of which was not confirmed at the time of me completing this work for that Leg. And that, in a nutshell, is why I didn’t get away in Seattle until a few days after the formal end of my Leg 6 contract, why I have already been gently lobbied by some crew here in Bermuda and why I will be juggling with excell spreadsheets on Friday and Saturday. Oh and I have a meeting with the Staff and all boat TCs later. Obviously I have to be focussed on this next race to New York but I do now have to give some thought to (and be able to answer questions about) race 14 and race 15 plus Londonderry, London and, shortly thereafter, the return of the boat to Portsmouth. All good fun.
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society please see:
For UNICEF UK please see:
Please take a look. Thank you.