I was planning my next blog to be all about the amazing race start that took place on 30th August at St. Katherine’s Dock. For those of us who signed up, some – including me – over two years ago, it was the day we had been waiting for. The moment we could cheer our team down the Thames and off across the Atlantic to Rio. But somehow with the awful news about the fatal injury to one of our Clipper family ( and it does feel like a family ) just days into the race I couldn’t write it.
The day was wonderful and it will stay with me always, especially being able to share it with my family and friends on board one of the spectator boats. Seeing my crew and friends, across the whole fleet, sailing under Tower Bridge and off down the Thames was very emotional. the next time I see my boat it will be on the other side of the world.
I didn’t know Andy, and hadn’t trained with him, as many of my Garmin crew had, but I knew what an experienced sailor and lovely guy he was. It was so very shocking to hear about the accident. I was out for the day with my elderly Mum and just saw a post flash up on Facebook. I simply couldn’t believe it. Sailing is a dangerous sport and crossing an ocean does of course have risks, but Clipper train us so well with a total focus on safety. As I read what had happened my heart went out to Andy, his family and the Ichorcoal crew who must have tried so hard to save him. The decision that the crew has taken to carry on with the race must have been difficult and they are all so brave, but maybe the only way some will be able to come to terms with what has happened and to keep their love of sailing is to complete what they started all those months ago when they joined for their first day of Level 1 training.
What has happened has made my family and friends worry more about what I am doing. But this is the first fatality in 20 years of Clipper and there are risks everywhere these days. Sometimes testing yourself and taking a greater risk feels like the right thing to do. We are all even more focused on the need to stay safe and sail as we have been taught, looking after ourselves and our crew mates. I have my Level 4 training to do in a few weeks time, as I missed the one I was due to be on because my Dad was very ill. I think I get what adventurous spirit I have from my Dad. He travelled the World as a News Cameraman and was often in dangerous places, but made it through mainly unscathed to reach 85. He is frail and quite poorly now but when I talk to him about my adventure I see a twinkle in his eye as he remembers all his trips to different parts of the planet. My next blog will follow my Level 4 training when there will be only be 5 weeks until I leave for Australia.
Andy will be in our thoughts throughout the race.