Passing the Baton

It's half past midnight and I've just put a cake in the oven. That might seem a little unusual but it wouldn't be if I were on a 68ft yacht taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.  Bread baking – along with cake baking (especially if it was a crew members Birthday the next day) was common place on night watch. Well it was on Hull & Humber anyway.

So I've just got back from Hull Marina – Greenbricks Pub to be exact, where a whole gaggle of people gathered to watch the final episode of Against The Tide – the TV series made about the last race.  It seemed a fitting place to come together each week – the scene of the start and finish of the 09/10 Race; the place from which I left with 5 whole weeks sailing experience under my belt and came back to, 10 months later, after 35,000 miles at sea, having lived through  an MOB, a crash, the wilds of the Pacific and a Skipper with a broken leg, hearing that our friends on California were in trouble, and with no communication for 24 hours not knowing if they were alive or if the unthinkable had happened.  We've had too much wind, not enough wind, been frozen and frazzled, been frustrated, elated, shared tears and so much laughter and joy.  It's been fabulous to live through it all again during the series but good as it's been, it can't even begin to convey what it really feels like to live through the Clipper Challenge.

And a Challenge it has certainly been.  Each week as we've gathered - friends, past crew, members of Hull Sailing Club (who have been helping me with my newly found addiction for sailing) and of course the new guys, the ever growing number of 11/12 Crew that turn up - each week people ask me what was the most challenging leg, or what was my worst or best moment.  Funnily the answer is often the same to both.  The worst moments – normally in the most trying circumstances - are also the times I regard as my best. I'm sure if Sir Robin were to hear that, he'd nod and smile knowing that the Clipper magic is still delivering; that people like me are walking away taller, braver and more sure of their own potential, that they can achieve anything that they set their minds to. 

Now tonight, at the end of the series it feels like the end of an era. I need to say farewell to my Clipper adventure. It's now the turn of the new guys; of Lizzie and Steve (sporting his lovely new Red 11/12 Breeze jacket), of Lynn and George, of Wendy, Julie, Kay and Leonie and of the Lady (who's name I forget) who came up from Lincoln tonight to watch the programme in the company of her new crew mates. I see the excitement in their faces, the hunger for adventure in their eyes; listen to the stories they already have from their completed weeks of training and feel their anticipation for the journey that awaits them. It will be race start before they know it!

It seems fitting that today the new skippers were announced. As our race series ends, their campaigns start right now and they will already be competitive and planning how to achieve the ultimate overall race win.  I envy them all the adventure they still have to come and a big part of me would love to do it again. But now I have to start a separate adventure, the next of many I hope. And so it really is time to pass the Baton on. Good luck to all the Clipper 11/12 skippers and crew. If you gain half as much from the experience as I have, it truly will be the best thing you have ever done...so far!