Ian is one of almost 700 ordinary people from all over the world taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, a global sailing race that allows anyone over the age of 18 the opportunity to experience Mother Nature in her raw and powerful glory.
What makes Ian’s achievement all the more remarkable is that prior to signing up, he had never stepped foot on a sailing boat but was hooked after seeing an ad for the epic endurance challenge on Facebook.
After departing London on Sunday 1 September 2019, Ian and his 20 teammates have raced ten other identical yachts for 24 hours per day for over three weeks at a time. They have faced blistering heat and windless zones at the equator and freezing cold temperatures, waves taller than buildings and wind speeds of over 70mph in the Southern Ocean. On the conditions, Ian said: “On one shift, we emerged from the companionway [entrance to the living space below deck] and there was just this huge wall of water.
“When you’re there and the waves are crashing over, it’s scary, beautiful, intense. It’s a lot of things all at once.”
After living in cramped conditions, enduring physical and mental hard work, on arriving in Fremantle after racing 15,000 on the Vietnamese sponsored team yacht called Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, Ian said: “We had English, Scoittish, Welsh, Australians, someone from Saudi Arabia, Poland, Australia, USA, Canada. We were a thoroughly multinational family.
“We’ve spent four months living with over 20 people at a time on a 70ft boat – you can’t get away so you have to get on well. When you’re in such intense situations you have to get on well – you don’t have your own bunk – you have to share with a crew mate. When they’re asleep you’re sailing, when they come on, you go down to sleep. The close living conditions certainly mean you get to know people very well.”
Despite never having sailed, Ian, like everyone taking part, had to undergo four intensive stages of training to take part in the Clipper Race. Reflecting on this, he adds: “There was a lot to learn on the race too, but we were already prepared with more than just the basics. It was about putting what we had learnt into practice and we are very well prepared to go out to sea.”
Whilst that might be enough to put some off for life, Ian reflects on the experience: “If someone is sitting at home on Facebook and happens to see something like this, then I encourage them to look into it. What would you rather be doing; sitting at home on your computer or would you rather be sailing the oceans, having the most amazing experience and meeting some of the most incredible people?!”
The Clipper Race is a 41,165 nautical mile circumnavigation which takes eleven months to complete. Crew can choose to race around the world or take part in one of more of the eight individual stages with the global route.
Each team, led by a professional skipper and first mate, is crewed by everyday people, from all walks of life and representing 43 different nationalities.
The Clipper Race pulls into ports of call along the way. So far, the race has called into Portimao, Portugal, Punta del Este, Uruguay and Cape Town, South Africa. From Fremantle, the race will restart on 22 December 2019 heading for Whitsundays, Australia; Sanya, China; Subic Bay, Philippines; Zhuhai and Qingdao, China; Seattle and New York, USA; Hamilton, Bermuda; Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland before finishing back in London in Summer 2020.