The Clipper Race made me realise that I’m DEFINITELY one of those people who feels the cold. It also made me realise that there is a wide spectrum of temperature tolerance between crew: whilst I was in full foulies, sometimes my friend Emily would be in a frickin’ bikini! (A different way to deal with rain I suppose).
Below is what I took sailing that covers Leg 7&8 – a real hot leg and a chilly leg. I’ve also put together a week-by-week packing list depending on the temperature of the leg, so if you’re doing just a hot leg or just a cold leg, you can adjust your kit quantities as required.
- 2 X merino t shirts
- 2 X merino long sleeve tops
- 2 X merino wool leggings
- 1 X medium fleece: not too massive as this has got to fit under your midlayers & foulies.
- 1 X Henri Lloyd midlayer jacket (aka “Duvet suit”: the BEST piece of kit I invested in!)
- 1 X Henri Lloyd midlayer salopette: ditto the above
- 1 x black/dark outdoor trousers: for leaving port photos, mild days.
- 1 x shorts: for hot days. Underwear alone is not appropriate ever.
- 1 X Lightweight Musto Gilet: for those sunny days with a bit of a nippy breeze.
- 2 X Sealskin socks: ideally longer ones. The longer they are, the further up your leg the water has to get before it floods them!
- 1 x Pair of Sailing boots: Dubarry ones seem to be pretty good. Don’t buy Musto HPX – mine leaked very early into the race.
- 1 X Sailing shoes: either leather deck shoes or “Old lady walking sandals”. I went for Teva sandals which were great for the heat and also for anything more adventurous on land.
- 1 x Foulies: Clipper provide these on your Level 4.
- Lots x Pants: enough for 1 pair per week on the boat plus some for shore of course. Yes, 1 pair per week. Standards really slip.
- 4 x Sports bras: not crazy supportive anti-bounce ones though – even if you’re larger up top. They’re very restrictive and you want something you can live in for a week at a time. Get these in advance and wear them in.
- Tooth brush
- Tooth brush protector
- Tooth paste
- Exfoliating face wipes: I learnt via trial & error that the exfoliating bit is very important to get the salt & suncream out.
- Anti-spot moisturiser: again, another thing needed to combat the effects of suncream + salt. The race does not treat your pores kindly. I used Burt’s Bees Anti-Blemish moisturiser. The salicylic acid in it seemed to work a treat.
- Talcum powder: this is an absolute essential! Brilliant for getting that last bit of dampness off you when you’ve had wet feet or have been sweating.
- Sudocream: another essential to combine with Talcum powder in the fight against nappy rash.
- Wet Wipes: your only form of shower. I used these huge thick ones from EQUIP which were awesome.
- Roll-On deodorant: do not take spray as this will gas everyone out on the boat. It’s also a fire hazard.
- Small hairbrush: tangle teezer good as effective & compact.
- Hair bands
- Exfoliating body cloth/exfoliating mitt: great for getting rid of salt & grime if you shower on deck during hot legs. Even better for that first shower in port.
- Panty liners x 1000: the secret to being able to wear just 1 pair of pants per week.
- Shampoo & conditioner: You may not get to use them on colder legs, but they’re the first thing you’ll want when you land in port.
- Contact lenses: I usually wear glasses, but found these were a real pain on training – they quickly get smeary on deck. For the race, I went for contacts that I could wear for a week at a time. I think they’re called Acuvue Oasis. These worked brilliantly. It means you can generally wait for calmer weather to change them rather than trying to change them every day.
- 2 x bottles Contact lens solution: this was plenty for 12 weeks away from home for weekly contact lenses.
- Merino wool buff: dries fast, doesn’t smell, stops foulies from making your face disgusting.
- Waterproof woolly hat
- Hat clip: to keep your woolly hat on your head. I lost 2 hats by not using this.
- 2 x UV-protective sunglasses: you can get some really good cheap ones in Sainsbury’s.
- 2 x Head torches: go cheap. Both of mine eventually died, but my expensive one died before my cheap one did.
- Big dry -bag for travelling: I bought this one from Lomo which did the job. It MUST be waterproof though to survive on the boat.
- Waterproof rucksack for travelling: Because your big bag won’t be enough. Also needs to be waterproof to survive on the boat. Again, I went to Lomo for this.
- Lots of little dry bags: think mine were around 6l for each week. Ideally with a window so you see what’s in them.
- Quick-drying Micro-fibre towel
- Sleeping bag: I used a Gauss one, but fisherman’s sleeping bags are pretty much the same, less bulky & cheaper.
- Pillow: I got a Gauss waterproof pillow and it was incredible. You’re potentially going to be sleeping in your bunk for 4 weeks straight so make sure you get a good pillow. A little luxury I couldn’t have lived without.
- Sailing knife
- Sailing gloves: I didn’t wear mine often in the end, but they were good for trimming the kite. Again, Lomo is great for cheap & effective versions.
- Rehydration salts: essential for dealing with heat & sea sickness.
- Water bottle: get one that can be hung up with a karabiner. I used a Camelbak Chute 750ml bottle which was great.
Aka: things that definitely make life on the boat easier!
- Elasticated Bed Sheet: makes sharing a bunk slightly more pleasant. We ended up buying a job-load of these and shared them out amongst the crew across legs.
- Long Bungee: to go by your bunk and hang stuff on
- Small Karabiner clips: to go in your kit to hang on the bungee.
- Pair of Crocs: great for going to the loo or moving about below decks as they’re so easy to put on. Some wore these on deck too.
- Small bottle of mouth wash: great for when you simply can’t face brushing your teeth in rough weather.
Optional Extras for dealing with the heat
- 2 x Wide-brimmed hats: one for you, one as a sacrifice to the sea. The most likely thing you own to go overboard.
- 2 x pair of shorts
- 2 x Bikini sets: great to swim in, but also great to sleep in as they dry so quickly. Make sure you’re happy for them to be chucked afterwards though.
- USB Fan: lots of people on our boat curled up clutching one of these when trying to sleep in the heat.
- USB Battery Pack: to power said USB fan and also charge your phone/tablet.
- Plant spritzer: nice to spritz water on your face
Optional Extras for dealing with cold
- A small Hot Water bottle (used in July on leg 8! SO COLD)
- Heat holder socks (they warm your feet back up quickly in your sleeping bag)
Stuff I took and didn’t use
- Merino pants: oh god, please don’t buy these, the slightest bit of sweat or dampness and these are a nightmare for nappy rash! I used synthetic pants in the end which were so much more comfortable.
- Synthetic Tshirts/Gym tops: in contrast to the pants, these are terrible for sweatiness and heat rash in the heat vs Merino tops. Trying to pry a sweaty synthetic top off your hot sweaty body? I don’t ever want to re-live that experience.
PACKING FOR THE RACE
I didn’t have a clue how to pack for the race until I arrived in Seattle for Leg 7. There, I was shown the dark art of dry bag organisation. After all, up until this point, I’d only ever spent a max. of 1 week at sea.
I stored all of my kit in individual dry bags from Lomo, a dry bag packed with clothing for each week. I also didn’t buy anything white as everything gets dirty pretty quickly. Toiletries & electronics I kept in separate dry bags. Things I needed quickly (eg head torch, hats, buffs & midlayers) I clipped onto a bungee by my bunk using karabiners.
Bag for CHILLY week (Eg. Week 1 of Leg 7, most of Leg 8 or autumn/spring training in the UK):
- 1 x Pants & Bra: sounds grim but get used to it!
1x Merino Tshirt
1x Long sleeved merino top
1x Long sleeved merino leggings
1x Midlayer Henri Lloyd salopettes
1x Midlayer Henri Llloyd jacket
Bag for TRANSITION WEEK CHILLY NIGHTS – WARM DAYS (Eg. 2nd week of Leg 7 or 1st week of Leg 8 or Summer training )
- 1 x Pants & Bra
- 1x Merino Tshirt
- 1x Long sleeved merino top
- 1x Long sleeved merino leggings
- 1x Midlayer Henri Lloyd salopettes
- 1x Midlayer Henri Llloyd jacket
- 1 X shorts
Bag for HOT HOT HOT Week (Eg. Week 2/3 of Leg 7 onwards)
- 1 x Pants & Bra
- 1 x shorts
- 1 x Bikini
- 1 x Merino Tshirt: I only packed 1 as I wore my bikini top/sports bra most of the time rather than a tshirt.