A crazy adventure on the horizon

in Adventure Travel / Clipper Tales / Sailing the World
Clipper Boat upwind

“Robert Granville, Nick Golding, Domenico Grazzani, Tasha Hacker…”

“Holy shit, that’s me!” I screamed, jumping up from my seat and reaching over to high-five Ryan.

After a morning of chugging coffee, chewing my nails and pacing back and forth in anticipation of this moment, it was a relief to hear my name and know my fate had been sealed.

Contrary to your guesses, I was not at a Hogwarts’ ceremony with Harry Potter waiting to find out which house the Sorting Hat would choose me for. Rather, I was watching the live broadcast from England of Crew Allocation for the Clipper Round the World Race.

Yep, that’s right. I’m going to be an ocean racer.

The Clipper race is the closest an amateur sailor will ever come to doing something like the Volvo Ocean Race; a round-the-world adventure on stripped down, 70-foot racing boats. It is the only race in the world to take hundreds of amateur sailors, train them specifically for ocean racing, and place them on racing monohulls to battle it out at sea on a circumnavigation. There are 12 boats in total, each carrying 22 amateur crew and 1 professional skipper.

Before you ask, we were completely sober when we signed ourselves up for this insane challenge. Ryan and I even signed up to crew on two different boats, which means we won’t be racing together. We’ll both be doing two out of the eight legs making up the full round-the-world race. And, of course, Ryan and I have a little rum wager on who’s going to win.

We’ll be setting out with the fleet on Leg 1, which includes two races: the first starting in Southern England and finishing in Brest, France, and then after a 2-3 day layover, we’ll be heading off to the west coast of Brazil. The entire leg covers nearly 4,500 nautical miles, taking us out of the English Channel, across the Bay of Biscay, across the Atlantic Ocean and the equator and down the Brazilian coast. We’ll tackle strong tides, confused seas, the fluky conditions of the infamous doldrums, and both cold and hot weather.

Once we are safely deposited on Brazilian soil, we’ll have about 30 days to get to South Africa and meet our boats again for the third leg of the Clipper, which will start in Cape Town and finish in Western Australia. This epic 4,700-nautical-mile leg takes us across the South Indian Ocean and the treacherous Southern Ocean, which will have us facing torrential rains and fast-moving weather systems, fighting large, powerful depressions, surfing down monstrous waves at speeds of up to 30 knots and hopefully dropping us at the doorstep of a well-stocked pub when we finally reach Australia.

The Clipper team has three months to train us and a fleet of 650 amateurs to be ready to take on this awesome challenge.

But not to worry. As the Clipper Founder, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said in an inspiring speech he gave on Crew Allocation Day, “We’re giving you about the finest training anyone has developed for what you’re taking on. We train you to go out and sail oceans. And there’s not many people who do it. More people have climbed Mt. Everest than have sailed around the world.”

What’s more, I’ll be covering the experience from start to finish here on Turf to Surf. So stay tuned for more news about the Clipper race and our upcoming training in England.

I know this experience is going to be nothing short of amazing and difficult and life-changing. So, despite the concerns I have about this adventure, I’m banking on the advice of that oft-quoted fellow, Mark Twain, who said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.”

clipper round the world race

It will be an uncomfortable but life-changing experience. (Photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc.)

Clipper Fleet Close Hauled

Clipper Fleet close-hauled in the ’09-’10 race (Photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc.)

edinburgh boat clipper round the world 11-12

These boats might have a few more lines than we have on s/v Hideaway.

clipper round the world edinburgh boat 11-12

Two excited crew preparing to race in ’11-’12. Next time out, that will be us!

Featured photo credit: Clipper Ventures Plc

To follow the rest of this crazy adventure in real time, keep an eye on Turf to Surf’s Photo Albums on their Facebook Page.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • Deana May 21, 2013, 11:45 pm

    This is freakin’ AWESOME Tasha! Wow

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:08 am

      Thanks, Deana! I’m pretty excited and nervous…it’s going to be a crazy experience!

  • ParadiseParrot May 21, 2013, 11:46 pm

    OMG What a experience. Grats and Kudos to you both!

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:07 am

      Lol. You should probably save those Congrats until we’ve completed that first leg! It’s all talk until we’re out on that ocean… (*biting nails*) 🙂

  • searavensailing May 21, 2013, 11:47 pm

    nice! something I’d love to do, look forward to hearing all about it!

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:07 am

      They’re still not full for this year’s race! You’ve got time to train! 😉

  • Tony Plunkett May 21, 2013, 11:47 pm

    Wow … great news…A big change from a crew of 2 + 2 felines to 23 on board … though twice as long as your Catalina34 … will follow this adventure for sure … good luck

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:06 am

      A big change, indeed! I’ve just found out I’m only allowed to bring 20 kilos of stuff, including my waterproof sleeping bag. That will be a hell of a packing challenge in itself!

  • Paul Barrett May 21, 2013, 11:48 pm

    Wow, a very big congratulation to the both of you. I am very excited about following along. What a platform for you to continue your exellent writing!

    Curious – are these boats being filmed for TV viewing, as in on board filming? Seems like it would be prime reality TV.

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:05 am

      Thanks for the congrats, Paul, though you should hold off until we arrive to Australia in one piece 😉
      And, yes, I will be writing during the race and posting using a satellite phone. We’ll see how that goes when I’m dead tired!

      As for filming, there is a Clipper Documentary that was filmed during the ’09-’10 race by giving video cameras to the crew and editing it with voiceovers later. It would totally be good reality TV viewing, but the problem is, where would we put a cameraman on the boat? Everyone wants to win, so no one wants to weigh down the boat with more gear or non-sailing crew.

      So, no, there won’t be much in the way of TV viewing. Though some nice crew-shot videos may come out of it!


  • Craig May 21, 2013, 11:49 pm

    Double WOW! What an amazing adventure! Good for you. I saw the fleet in Oakland once just after arriving from across the Pacific. They looked very seasoned and confident. Many big smiles and they clearly had great pride in what they had just accomplished.

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:02 am

      We met the fleet when they arrived in New York City last year and I was really inspired by talking to some of the sailors…the experience really seems to change them. Another thing to check out is Clipper’s documentary about the ’09-’10 Round the World Race. Each leg is a separate episode and it’s riveting!

  • Jesse K on s/v Smitty May 21, 2013, 11:49 pm

    Can’t wait to read about it. Very jealous!

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:01 am

      I’ll be posting (as much as I can with our 4-hour watch system) via satellite phone email to the blog while we’re racing, so keep checking the web site for Clipper updates!

  • Kelly May 21, 2013, 11:50 pm

    This is crazy, I had a customer come into my store who is also doing this race and happens to be crew on your boat! What a small world.

    • tashahacker May 21, 2013, 11:59 pm

      Really?! What was his/her name? It wasn’t Ryan Bates, was it?

  • pdolsenPhil Dolsen May 21, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Once you cross an ocean it will be an experience burned in your brain. Your life will be befor the ocean race and after. Your attitude will be different. I crossed in the ARC in 2000 and will never forget the trip. You will love it.

    • tashahacker May 21, 2013, 11:58 pm

      Thanks, Phil! I have no doubt my brain will change in a LOT of ways! It’s both scary and exciting 🙂

  • Prosecco & Pampers May 21, 2013, 11:52 pm

    Wow, Tasha!!! This is amazing and exciting and – yes! – insane news! Some portion of the ARC race leaves Las Palmas de Gran Canaria every November, we were there for the launch in 2012 but it was delayed due to high winds. Any chance you’ll be w your crew in our neighborhood?!?!?!

    • tashahacker May 21, 2013, 11:57 pm

      Hey Marge! Yes, insane and exciting! No, unfortunately the Clipper doesn’t go via Gran Canaria. We will have a 2-3 day stopover in Brest, France, then we’ll continue on to Brazil. The race from Capetown, South Africa to Western Australia (port yet to be determined) is a non-stop race of 4,700 nautical miles. No stopping! But I have a feeling our paths will cross again soon 🙂

  • Mid-Life Cruising! May 21, 2013, 11:53 pm

    A crazy adventure indeed … how exciting! This will surely by a life-changing experience for both of you .. in a great way! Participating in this race is adventure enough, but you’re going to be on separate boats … that’s really cool. Looking forward to following the journey with ya’ll!

    • tashahacker May 21, 2013, 11:55 pm

      Yes, being on different boats is crucial to my learning process… I want to be stronger as a sailor, and I need not to be able to fall back on Ryan for that. 🙂

  • Lisa May 26, 2013, 3:31 am

    Wow, that is an impressive journey. All the best to you both!

    • Tasha Hacker May 26, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Thank you! We’re really excited! It’s going to be quite a challenge 🙂

  • Pat Allen June 12, 2013, 11:17 pm

    This will be a great experience. Can’t wait to hear about it. Last time they had web cams going so we should be able to see you.

    • Tasha Hacker June 13, 2013, 10:35 pm

      Ooh! I might bring my Go Pro and see how that goes 🙂

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