It’s taken me a week to get round to writing this, mostly as the excitement still hasn’t worn off yet and I’ve had a permanent grin on my face. Crew Allocation is a huge, long awaited event for Clipper Crew, staff and skippers. It’s been in our diaries for over 8 months. The twelve skippers were announced some time ago, so it was with some trepidation that 700 crew and supporters headed to Portsmouth Guildhall last Saturday. The day had finally come for us to find out who our skipper would be for the race, who we would be sailing with and maybe which boat we would be on.
Some of us headed to Portsmouth on the Friday evening, meeting in a bar on the waterfront. One of the best things and the thing I love most about Clipper (apart from the sailing) is the people.
So many friends, from all over the world that we don’t get to catch up with very often, so it’s quite an occasion when we all get together. There were similar groups in bars all over Portsmouth, mostly sending each other “what pub are you in?” texts!
Saturday morning arrived with a sea of bright red Clipper jackets slowly making it’s way to the Guildhall ready for when it opened at 9am.
We were signed in and given our usual Clipper goody bags (they know how to look after us!) containing a bottle of water, a cereal bar, a clipper notepad and the thing of which we were most proud – the Crew Wristband.
Then it was crew photos and jacket collection for those who hadn’t already got theirs (and some people who really, really, don’t like their crew photo & wanted another one done…..<cough>) Then it was into the main hall for tea and bacon baps (see, I said they looked after us!) before taking our seats ready for the main event. Oh and the inevitable selfies!
The atmosphere in the room was quiet yet electric when Sir Robin Knox-Johnston took to the stage to welcome us all. The first thing he spoke of as ever, was safety. Which goes to show just what importance Clipper place on safety – it comes above all other things and is reinforced at every opportunity, both on and off the boat.
Now I must admit at this point, that I can’t actually remember what else Sir Robin said. It’s normally something about us being amazing people taking on a huge challenge and making the most of life’s opportunities. Not attempting to get your phone camera to focus on your wristband so you can put a picture on Facebook…… (sorry Sir Robin!)
Next were talks by the Race Director and other Clipper staff about such very interesting things such as which ports we will be visiting, on what dates, when race finish is, what sat comms we’ll have on board and how we’ll be able to access them through our own devices, safety equipment and a talk by the Official Race Charity UNICEF on some of the work they do and how important the money raised by all of the teams is to them.
Then before we knew it, the twelve skippers were introduced and it was time for each skipper to announce who would be on their team. One by one each skipper rose to read out half of their team. There were over 700 people in the room yet it was completely silent except for the names and the odd cheer when people heard their names.
It was quite tense to say the least. There were some cheers and some disappointments, not least from those of us who had got through the first half and still hadn’t heard our names! But then Andy Burns rose for the second time and I was first on the list! I’ve not met Andy in training, so when I walked into my teams breakout room, we met for the first time.
Oddly it’s turned out that not one of our group of Clipperati are on the same team! It’s been suggested that perhaps Clipper did that deliberately! (I couldn’t possibly think why!) So immediately after all the names had been called, our little group that I am proud to call some of my best friends, went our separate ways to meet our new team mates.
Andy had some presents for his new team when we arrived. Including sail ties, rolls of electrical tape, vacuum bags, sick bags and a bandana! He gave us the exciting news of which boat we are actually on, but we’re not allowed to reveal it until the official announcement next month. So you’ll have to wait – sorry!
The following few hours were taken up meeting our team mates, deciding on a team ethos and discussing ideas for our team building weekend, team song and even what food we’d like on board. Then it was off outside for the Crew Photo and then heading off to Gunwharf Quays for an evening of team bonding with refreshments. Quite a lot of refreshments if I’m honest!
It was an amazing evening following an epic day, which will be long remembered by all of us. I’m thrilled with my skipper & boat and my fellow #TeamAndy crew mates are all wonderful people. So you could say I’m rather pleased by how it turned out, I’m looking forward to our Team Building weekend and Level 4 training together immensely.