Yachting is a very broad church. Those who take part in this sport are diverse, ranging from the loner who choses his particular modus operandi, perhaps sailing a ditch-crawler PD (Puddle Duck) Gorfnik,* to the highly competitive, super-human, who can only be satisfied by racing the latest high-tech yacht, to boot, around the world. In between, there are dinghy sailors who race or cruise, yachtsmen and yachtswomen who love pottering, day sailing, and cruising, and those who engage in a host of other sailing activities, involving both amateurs and professionals alike.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race attracts people who want to be tested to the limits of their endurance, and yet, according to the organisers, they are,‘ordinary, everyday people’. They say there is no need for a background of sailing - applicants must have a desire to join a group adventure, and be part of a highly competitive team who will face difficult and very testing conditions as they race around the world aboard a purpose-built 70’ yacht.
There is a vigorous training programme for potential participants who can elect to join one or more legs of the race - or even race all the way round the world. Twelve, virtually identical yachts, are skippered by competent professional sailors whose task, along with specialists at the outset, is to train and prepare crews for their arduous adventure. Having been trained, the yachts and their crews are tested by competing in a six day offshore race before taking part in the real thing.
Commitment, strength, endurance and team spirit are essential, not just to win, but to bring yachts home safely. There are point penalties for loss of gear, sails, and damage to equipment; therefore skippers and watch leaders have to ensure their yachts are being sailed without taking undue risks. Sadly, shortly after the start of his year’s race, a yachtsman, Andrew Ashman, aboard CV 21, was fatally injured. This was the first and only fatality since the inception of the Race in 1995. The Race is not without risk.
As I write, the leading yacht of leg 3, LMAX Exchange, is only a few hours away from the Wardan Whip finish line, SW Australia.
*PD Gorfnik: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gueen5ugn2i938w/Gorfnik%20Book%20as%20of%209-30-2015.pdf?dl=0
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