As the sun comes up, unveiling charcoal circles under my eyes from lack of sleep, I wrack my brain trying to remember what it is I need to pack. Thermal underwear, shorts, iPad, sunscreen, wool socks, sharp knife, swimsuit, ski hat, headlamp…God, what are the customs officials going to make of this collection…?
In just a few hours, Ryan and I are boarding a plane in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, bound for England, where we’re going to do our first week of Clipper Round the World training in 68-foot racing yachts on the Solent and the English Channel.
I’ve had absolutely no sleep, but my spirits are high from a mix of anticipated adrenalin and the outpouring of support from Turf to Surf readers and friends regarding the challenge we’re about to take on. Not to mention the helpful tips and advice we’ve received from those who are experienced racers or just experienced at doing the insane.
You, my readers, have written some great emails asking me about the Clipper Race, the boats, our training and the two legs we’re competing in. So before I am swallowed up for a week to freeze my butt off at sea with a boat full of strangers, I thought it would be fun to take this delirious opportunity to answer some of your questions.
Q1: Are you insane?!
Actually, no one’s asked that. Well, maybe my parents. But, really, they should be used to this kind of thing by now, so I’m not answering.
Q2: How long will it take to complete one leg of the race?
A lot longer than it’ll take for me to empty the bottle of whiskey I’ll be smuggling on board.
JUST KIDDING, Clipper Officials! I know the rules, I swear. NO ALCOHOL allowed on board (wink).
Seriously, each leg will take about 23 days. The 1st Leg is from England to Brazil, but is divided into 2 races. The first race will be from London to Brest, France (about 3 days), and the second race will be from Brest to Rio de Janeiro (about 20 days).
Leg 3 will be one hell of a long, continuous race from Cape Town, South Africa across the Indian and Southern Ocean to a port in Australia, which has yet to be announced. The passage should take about 25 days and these boats are predicted to reach speeds of over 30 knots. There are even rumors that these boats can do 11 knots in 10 knots of wind. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but I think that means we’ll be going as fast as the wind. Or faster.
Q3: Why did you and Ryan decide to race on different boats?
To save our marriage.
Sort of. I say that because I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve taken a back seat to Ryan these last six years of sailing Hideaway around New York and then to the Caribbean. While Ryan has dedicated his energies to learning everything he could about sailing, I’ve defaulted to Ryan on most things boat-related. Which, of course, means I’ve learned a lot less. And that’s my own damned fault. So, for me, this race is an opportunity to make up for my years of inadequacy, learn everything I can about sailing and racing and develop my skills as an individual; and, most importantly, to develop my skills without Ryan around to fall back on for help.
Q4: How and where do 22 crew sleep on a Clipper boat?
Funny you should ask, because I’m kind of curious about this myself. From what I know, my Skipper, Eric Holden, is a fan of “hot-bunking” as a racing tactic. Basically, because proper weight distribution is so important to successful racing, we will all be required to sleep where our weight is most advantageous to the boat. Which means we will never have a fixed berth.
So when I’m not sleeping in my dandy new Gauss waterproof sleeping bag, I’ll be keeping my belongings (including my sleeping bag) in a dry sack clipped to a bunk, so it’s ready to move to a new bunk at any time.
With 22 crew on board, half of us will be on deck at any given time, while the other half of us will be sleeping where we can best aid our boat’s performance.
You might ask why on earth I would need a waterproof sleeping bag. Am I likely to get wet while I’m sleeping?
Well, a LOT of things will be getting wet inside the boat with soaked crew moving about inside and dripping sails being stored between our berths. And since I’ll be cold and wet while sailing a lot of the time, the last thing I want is to be cold and wet while sleeping, too. Also, we will be experiencing everything from the hot weather of the tropics as we cross the equator, to the frigid cold of the Southern Ocean below the Cape of Good Hope. And for that, we need a sleeping bag that will keep us comfortable in all conditions.
After a lot of research, we are thrilled with our decision to buy the Gauss Dreamseeker sleeping bag, from an online company called Fierce Turtle. The Dreamseeker is, without a doubt, the kit that’s most crucial to our comfort on the race, other than our foul-weather gear. And the great thing is we can use our bag on future outdoor adventures, not just on a racing boat crossing the Southern Ocean.
And here’s some good news! Having built a relationship with the company Fierce Turtle while doing our research, they offered to give away a FREE Gauss Dreamseeker sleeping bag (valued at $250) to one lucky Turf to Surf Facebook Fan!
Sorry guys, the contest is over. But congratulations to s/v Bora Da for winning this amazing sleeping bag!
(Featured photo credit: Clipper Round the World Ventures, Plc)