Adventure sailing: This regatta is the highlight for amateurs


For amateurs, this regatta is the highlight

Adventure sailing: This regatta is the highlight for amateurs-

Calm before the storm: The start of the Derry – Londonderry stage was quiet, later the twelve participating yachts in the Clipper Round The World Race got into heavy seas with orKan-like gusts

Source: Clipper Ventures / AH

At the Clipper Round The World Race, amateur athletes sail around the world in stages. Previous knowledge is not necessary. An excursion that takes many to their limit. But the hardships are worth it.

D.he waves that pull through the water here are moving mountains. Nowhere in the sea is the energy of so many storms stored as here. The swell in the Southern Ocean, which spans the earth south of the land masses of Africa, Australia and South America, is enormous.

For the Clipper Round The World Race the Southern Ocean is one of the standard routes.

"I was sitting on deck, we were talking, and suddenly this huge wave came out of nowhere and knocked me and Ben and the whole ship over, everything was flying around," remembers Jim Hendry, 67, of moments of shock on the Clipper-70- Yacht "Great Britain".

His crewmate Ben Pate, 30: “I looked around and there was Jim, his head in a strange position, and at first it didn’t look as if he was breathing. But then he coughed. ”While the helmsman stayed on course, the others got their dazed fellow sailor below deck and checked him through, he hadn’t broken or torn anything.

The giant wave came out of nowhere

When Jim Hendry wanted to go back to his watch on deck, skipper Simon Talbot, 44, ordered him to take a break. Everyday life in the Clipper Round The World Race 2013/14, the third stage of which proves to be the toughest in all previous Clipper regattas.

Twelve 70-foot yachts with crews of 20 men and women each are currently sailing around the world in a 40,000-mile regatta, the sailors pay for it and toil and sleep for weeks every four hours.

It’s a race for amateurs, for truck drivers and teachers, nurses and physicists, grandmothers, entrepreneurs, students and adventurers. A basic rule is: everyone is a crew, and it is irrelevant on board how someone makes their living on land.

The organizer "Clipper Ventures" calls it "the race that will change your life". The German participant Marlis Haase, 49, from Neustadt / Holstein was there on the first stage, from London via Brest to Rio. She doesn’t think that the trip changed her life, but she is enthusiastic about the adventure, the crew spirit, the sailing under the glittering starry sky, in fog, calm and storm.

Participants pay themselves

“It was worth every effort, and it’s something nobody forgets.” Like every world race today, the Clipper Round The World Race is a commercial event, except that the business model here is not based on professional athletes and sponsorship budgets, instead paying the participants themselves for sailing.

Another promise made by the organizer is: "No experience required" – no experience is required. What the applicant has to bring with them are energy, time and money. A stage costs between 5200 and 6500 euros, plus three trainings (around 5000 euros), plus travel expenses. The race cannot be had for less than 12,000 euros.

It is useful if you can sail, but you don’t have to be a skilled sailor or have a sailing license. The twelve skippers of the race are the professionals, and the crews are put together in such a way that craftsmen, doctors, nurses and experienced sailors are fairly distributed.

The first and second stages of the 2013/14 race were exhausting and demanding, the third, which will come to an end in Albany (Western Australia) at the end of the week, was extremely tough. A 36-year-old injured her arm on “Derry-Londonderry”. At first it seemed broken, but it was "only" bruises and torn ligaments.

Injury taken care of on board

The yacht sailed back to South Africa and handed the woman over to the coast guard, who transported her to the hospital. On “Mission Performance”, a 40-year-old Australian tore his calf open on a fitting, a nurse on board battled her seasickness and took care of the injured. He too was brought ashore.

So far, there have been no deaths in eight Clipper races. On the one hand this is luck, but on the other hand it is not a coincidence either. There was material damage, a stranding, a broken mast, and three dozen bruised and broken ribs. A sailor went overboard three times, one of which was washed overboard in the Southern Ocean by a wave that hit the ship the moment he stepped on deck and his safety line was not yet hooked. The man was saved.

Man-over-board maneuvers are practiced several times during training, and more realistically than you know from sailing license exams: An 85-kilo dummy is thrown overboard, usually at an unexpected moment.

A side effect of this training: While the crew members are rehearsing a few dozen man overboard maneuvers in their regatta preparation, the skippers have done hundreds of them and they have seen everything that can go wrong. If anyone can get a person out of the water, it is these sailors.

There is intensive training before the start

During the training, everything that is important on board is trained, including cleaning the toilet, keeping a logbook, doing a thorough cleaning (“deep clean”), cooking, changing sails and steering. "Safety" has the highest priority. Even if the trainees think it is exaggerated to wear a life jacket in wind force 3 or to go on deck with seat belts in wind force 2 – these are behaviors that should become second nature.

Because people don’t go overboard when they expect it, but when fate or a big wave catches them on the wrong foot. And the statistics are not on the part of the organizers. With over 500,000 nautical miles sailed by the fleet’s twelve boats every two years, the likelihood increases that something serious will happen at some point.

The third stage is called the “sleigh ride” in Clipper jargon, because there is strong aft wind and rushing surfs down the big waves. This November, the sleigh ride was like a shot ride down a mogul slope.

Gusts up to 130 knots

Two people were injured in the first storm, but only a few bruises and material damage the next. Although it was blowing at a wind speed of 50 to 80 knots and gusts of up to 130 knots were measured. Wind force 12, i.e. hurricane, starts at 63 knots.

Under these conditions, the skippers also have the task of maintaining the mood of the crew and an orderly, i.e. safe, on-board operation. Vicky Ellis, 30, on the “Switzerland” cheered up her “sheep” by saying that the storm at sea is just like summer in Scotland. And "Henri Lloyd" skipper Eric Holden, 33, emailed that he no longer regards his crew as amateurs: "What they have experienced, most professionals do not experience in their entire lives."

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