For the past ten months I’ve been telling everyone I know about the Clipper Round the World Race.
In parallel, I’ve been telling them about the #Winleg6 Competition and my epic drafting process to submit the 50 words necessary to enter. You’d think it’d be simple, but when an opportunity to become a race crew member on the Qingdao-San Francisco leg is on the line, I take my time…
Surprisingly, not many of my friends have thought of it as such an amazing opportunity. They balk – “A bit nuts”, “Wild”, “Too long”, “Seriously?”, “Across the Pacific?”.
I seem to have an innate draw toward sailing (and adventure, in general), but what’s really the draw of the open seas for me?
The isolation, the tinned food, the weather, the work, the wind…I don’t think I could pinpoint one. It’s just the package. I love wind and reading weather changes. I’m obsessed with maps and could pour over the symbols and signs all day. I’m a rock climber so tying knots comes as a practical necessity. The isolation mixed with the close proximity to the other crew is tough on a space-loving country bumpkin like me, but when it comes down to it, it’s hardly a problem.
The work. The racing. These are the things I probably can’t imagine properly yet. I know hard work and love competition as much as the next guy, but working with ropes and sails and timing and knots and angles of dangle is a herky jerky process. It’s not the locomotive simplicity of running or biking. A bit like tree surgery in space without the chainsaws. Herky jerky.
I guess I’ve always been a sucker for a challenge. When asked about the idea of a Habitat for Humanity sponsored yacht race from England to Portugal back at university, despite little to no experience, I was the singular hand in the air volunteering to help organise it and participate.
I wanted the Bay of Biscay to be raging. I wanted to learn something. I wanted to be tested. Against fairly basic sea conditions, the rhythms of life on board – four hours sleep, four hours watch for seven days, eating sideways in cramped spaces, learning sailing terminology – were some of the biggest challenges. Pair that with another 23 days or so, and there it is. San Fran or bust!
The open ocean – the freedom, the huge sky, the fresh air, the need to be able to fix everything, the self-dependence, the order…it’s like a little world unto itself.