Day 1 of the Clipper Race: Mother Watch

in Clipper Tales / Life at Sea / Sailing the World
clipper race 13-14 london (2)

The Clipper Race Kicks Off

The big day has finally arrived: It is the start of Race 1 of Leg 1 of the Clipper Round the World Race.

It’s been an intense week in London for the hundreds of Clipper crew about to start Leg 1, considering the boats have been under construction up until the 11th hour. My schedule has been full of boat prep, guardrail installations, sail checks, deep cleaning, winch servicing, boat naming ceremonies, media interviews and desperate gear purging to make sure my belongings fit within the 20-kilo limit per crew on board Henri Lloyd. Which has left little time for visits from friends and family or spending much time with Ryan before departing for the high seas.

The last week has been so stressful, in fact, that it isn’t until London grows smaller in the distance, and we are finally motoring towards the start line, that I begin to relax for the first time in months. As we hoist our sails and wait for the cannon shot that will kick off our first 380-mile race from London, UK to Brest, France, the adrenalin kicks in and I finally start to enjoy myself.

Mother Watch: A hell of a job

When you think of yacht racing, you probably think of high-pressure moments like the ones seen on YouTube, where a boat tacks around a fixed race marker with the crew grinding on the winches or scrambling across the deck to the high side, each boat coming within what seems like inches of each other.

But, despite all the pressure of performing on deck, it’s the crew on Mother Watch – the 24-hour below-deck rotation in which two crew at a time are responsible for all the day’s meals – that bear the mother lode of high-pressure responsibility.

Just imagine, if you will, the look on my skipper’s face at 6:40 am on Race Start Day when he’d asked for the crew to be fed and on deck for work by 6:30 am at the LATEST. And yet I and, Jo, the other “mother” on duty, had to admit that the hot porridge was nowhere near ready to be served.

Lesson #267 in onboard living: When the porridge package instructions say “2-4 minutes to cook on the stove” they are NOT referring to a 20-person serving.

Having thoroughly disappointed the skipper during the morning shift of Mother Watch, Jo and I were determined not to screw up lunch and dinner. So we made sure to be below deck, cooking away in the galley at least an hour and a half before each meal serving time.

This, unfortunately, meant missing out on a lot of the first-day-of-Clipper-Racing action (I had to pop my head up on deck every half an hour to check what the status was – were we beating or losing to my husband’s boat, PSP Logistics? “Priorities, people! I’m slaving away in the galley – the least you can do is make sure we beat Ryan!”)

This also meant Jo and I were forced to spend most of the day below deck, which is a sure-fire way to kick-start seasickness. So, it was lucky that one of our Leg 8 crew members, Emma, had provided the boat with homemade meals to get us through the first two days of racing without having to do any heavy cooking. I’ve never been so happy to see a frozen catering tray full of chicken Thai curry. Reheating and serving was about all I could handle by dinner preparation time, considering the 45-degree tilt and the bouncy conditions.

The winds kicked up in the English Channel, making tacking a violent experience below deck. Bowls were flying out of the cupboards at our faces, a bottle of olive oil smashed all over the floorboards, Jo (the other Mother) was lying face-down on a sail retching into a garbage bag and I was crawling periodically to the head on my hands and knees to vomit, while emerging now and then to check that the rice wasn’t burning.

Let’s just say we were not the same ravenous crew who, the previous night, had scarfed down two entire chocolate cakes for our first Clipper Race birthday on board Henri Lloyd.

As I pulled my head from the toilet, I thought to myself that it may be a while before I see chocolate cake again. But then again, it may be a while before I want to see chocolate cake again.

Either way, there was no turning back now.


The Clipper Round the World Race

Tasha and Ryan are competing in Legs 1 and 3 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which started September 1st, 2013 in London, UK. Tasha is competing on CV21 (the Henri Lloyd boat) with Skipper Eric Holden and Ryan is competing on CV28 (the PSP Logistics boat) with Skipper Chris Hollis. You can read more about the crew and the boats here at

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  • Romanda September 21, 2013, 10:02 pm

    mmm, Tasha it seems there is a pattern when you are on mother watch? I recall the same/similar situation when you were mother with Carmen on our level 2 training ahhahaha. you’ll get the hang of it I am sure!
    Hope you are having fun!

    • Tasha Hacker October 18, 2013, 1:33 am

      Yeah, I’m not gonna lie: I’m not a terrible cook, until you give me a deadline. Then all hell breaks loose. The galley is not my happy place 🙂

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