A tad nervous

I’ve been slightly nervous the last couple of days. Not because of anything major, but all because of one line sent on an email last week: “one place left”.

The email in question was one sent from Clipper HQ letting me know that there was just one place left on Leg 8 – the final leg of the race. I’d expressed an interest but did I still want it? And if I did, I needed to get my revised contract back quickly or it was onto the waiting list with me. Nothing was guaranteed.

The Clipper RTW race is split into 8 legs and around 16 races, allowing people to join at different stages.

I originally only signed up to Leg 7 of the Clipper race as I’d initially resigned myself to one leg for holiday allowance and financial reasons. There was also the thought of crossing the world’s second largest ocean – slightly scary. After attending the interview and crew briefing days, however, I quickly realised that I really wanted to do Leg 8 too. How would I be able to step off the boat after the penultimate leg and fly back to the UK when the boat I had been on was sailing back?

I like to think I’m saving on a return flight, but adding on a extra leg to the race makes it even heftier financial commitment. It seems I’m not the only one that can’t resist doing more than one leg though: at the crew briefing day, not once did I meet someone doing just one leg. Every conversation was about how they were doing multiple legs and how they’d added more on along the way. When we were told at the that the race was nearly full, I had to sign up for the final leg, crazy woman that I am.

Luckily, today it was confirmed that I’d secured that final place on Leg 8. The result? Relief, but probably more nerves on too! The North Atlantic is going to be pretty damn scary, but the return home will make it worth it. I’m hoping we return to London as per last year – sailing under tower bridge after months away would be a brilliant end to this adventure.

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First piece of kit

One of the upsides of signing up for a Yacht Race is that you need to invest in some technical, yacht-appropriate kit. I love technical kit, so serious excitement today with the arrival of my new super-cosy Gauss sleeping bag!

Even though my Level 1 training is still months away, a waterproof sleeping bag seemed like a good up-front investment. Anyone that knows me will know that I love my sleep and as I won’t be getting a huge amount during training or the race, I wanted to make sure I had something cosy to retire to.

The majority of Clipper blogs recommend either a Gauss Dreamliner bag or an Ocean Sleepwear bag for the race, the main advantage of both being that you stay dry (nice touch). I’m keen to get as much pre-loved kit as I can for this adventure to keep costs down, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for both of these on ebay and fierceturtle.co.uk – a Clipper site selling new & pre-owned kit. Luckily, I managed to find this second-hand gem on ebay.

Compared to my normal camping sleeping bag (a mere 1.5kg), this is an absolute GIANT of a sleeping bag. “Looks like a liferaft” was the first comment it inspired. It’s definitely not lightweight, but I was straight in it after managing to evict it from it’s bag.

I can see many happy nights ahead in this yellow beast. In fact, I’m pretty tempted to sleep in it straight away – fleece lined, massive pillow, lots of space = extra-snug goodness.  Not sure how I’m going to wrestle it back into it’s bag or transport it, but right now, I’m seriously chuffed.

First piece of technical sailing kit – check!

What I’m doing and why…

Clipper-race In April 2016, for 3 months, I’ll be competing in “one of the planet’s toughest endurance challenges”: the 15/16 Clipper Round The World Yacht Race. As part of a crew, I’ll be racing 11 other yachts, sailing 9,000 miles on the penultimate and final legs of the race (Legs 7 & 8) from the West Coast of America to the UK, taking in the Panama canal, East Coast USA, the north Atlantic and Europe along the way.

“Why?!”

I’ve always had a slightly masochistic side to me that likes to challenge myself. I’m not talking anything ridiculous – up until now, it’s been all about rowing and hiking up mountains – but then I started passing the Clipper Yacht Race Posters on the tube.

I’ve been walking past these posters for a couple of years now, and every time I saw one, I always thought “I’d love to do that”. For some reason though, I never believed it was something I could do. Then, last November, I walked past another poster and realised the only thing stopping me from applying for this experience was me. What did I have to lose? A month later and I bit the bullet – I applied for an information pack, attended an interview and was accepted onto the race. I’m now at the beginning of a very exciting and very long journey preparing myself for 3 months at sea in 2016. So far, I’ve been on one of the boats, attended the January Crew Briefing and have an amazing “Race Crew” Henri Lloyd jacket (STASH!) which makes thing slightly more real. I’ve now got 4 weeks of training ahead of me in 2015, teaching me how to sail from scratch (I only do boats with oars at the moment) and preparing me for what is probably going to be the most challenging/terrifying experience of my life.