Diary of a Clipper Racer

Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood

Supporting my chosen charity - "Dreams Come True"

Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.

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1 - Training Part A (7th to 14th November 2001)

This was it.  My first experience of living on board a Clipper yacht.  I’d better like it.

The pre-race training is split into three parts:  Parts A, B and C.  All crewmembers are required to complete all three parts although for “round-the-worlders”, Part C requires a greater commitment.  For now, Part A is common to all of us.  It gives us the chance to see what it is really all about and we can still back out at the end of it.

So there I was, early on a Wednesday morning at Stansted airport, Clipper crew spotting.  It wasn’t very hard – the mixture of deck shoes on feet and slightly nervous anticipation on faces.  We soon had the entire group together, getting to know one another.   Where do you come from?  What do you do for a living?  How many legs are you doing?  Why are you doing it?  Why?!

We arrived in Portugal and were transferred to Vilamoura, where we met the two yachts, Glasgow Clipper and Portsmouth Clipper. Naturally, I headed straight for Portsmouth Clipper, but was hauled back and redirected onto Glasgow.   On board with me were nine other newcomers:  Iain, Andrew, Karen, Valerie, Barry, Charles, Barbara, Ram and Howard.

Nick was the skipper, with Dee as his first mate.   They immediately got us to deal with the important issues:  I take my tea white with no sugar – coffee the same.  Oh, and by the way, I’m Ossie.

Then we started to learn how to sail.  Full safety briefings and then out to sea where the drills began. It was a steep learning curve - main sail, headsail, reefing, tacking, gybing before moving rapidly on to spinnakers, sail trim and basic racing techniques.  Throughout it all, the importance of safety and teamwork was emphasised time and again. 

It wasn’t all hard work of course.  There was the pub at the end of the pontoon, the 19th Hole, where karaoke and Super Bok (the local beer) all played an important and memorable part in the week.  Who could ever forget the moving rendition of “Just a Gigolo” by one member of the Glasgow crew that drove Iain and Andrew to try and swim for the boat rather than take the pontoon like everyone else.

The week culminated in a four day trip out into the Atlantic. Having beaten the other boat, Portsmouth Clipper, out of the marina, we carried on out to sea and went into our watch system - three hours on, three hours off.  As we sailed into the night, we sailed into a storm – our first experience of what it was really going to be like.  Whilst I was not exactly in the pink, I was pleased to note that I was not one of the majority who succumbed to seasickness.

Having been woken up at 4am to swollen seas, freezing cold and wet shoes one day, I sat in the cockpit trying to work out quite why I was doing this.  About six hours later, as the sun beat down and dolphins swam alongside us, I knew.  I think that this adventure will be all about the highs and lows –this was my first experience of that.

We finished the week on a high with a sing-a-long at the 19th Hole and one or two more Super Boks.  Bring on Part B in March 2002!

Click here for part 2 - Training Part B (6th to 13th March 2002)

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