Last weekend was quite something. Sunday 20th August was the Official Race Start of the 2015-2016 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the previous evening there was a drinks reception and party held for the Crew of the 2017-2018 race.
It was the first time, outside of the interview that I got to meet other Crew members who are going to be doing the same race. It was amazing to talk to them, to hear their stories and their reasons for signing up. There were some Round the World people and a lot of leggers like myself who had chosen sections of the race. It was the first time I really became aware of quite how huge the Clipper actually is, and what a family it is as well.
The race village was staffed by race alumni who were more than happy to talk about their adventures and what they had got out of it. What struck me the most was that they weren’t superhuman, they weren’t professional super fit athletes, they weren’t slightly crazy (ok, maybe just a little), they were ordinary people who came together to do something amazing and became part of this crazy little family.
I took my eldest son with me, he’s already planning that he’s going to take part in the 2025 race that his Dad will be paying for it!
Official Race Start was quite a spectacle: The crews were presented one by one, then each boat came out of the docks and came out onto the Thames to begin their 11 month journey.
Meanwhile those of us lucky enough to get tickets for the supporter boats, joined the long queue to board our own boats.
Tower Bridge opened twice for the Clipper Fleet so they could go up and then back down on the long parade down the Thames to the open sea.
Crowds lined both banks of the river and also Tower Bridge. They had to clear it to open it!
The supporter boats were full of crew members, family members, past crew, future crew and race team staff.
It was very much a party atmosphere as we chased the fleet down the Thames, then stopped to give them time to catch up and go past, then chased them again.
All the time with flags waving, cheers and much applause.
The friends & family of ‘Brian’ who is on the Mission Performance boat were with us on the top deck, over the next few hours new friendships were forged and soon everyone was cheering for Brian! Most of us had never met Brian but we all became “Team Brian” when we passed Mission Performance and then “Team Chloe” every time we passed Unicef! Quite what the crew thought of entire boats chanting their names wasn’t actually known!
We followed the fleet down the Thames until they passed through the Thames Barrier, then as they continued their journey towards Southend, ready for the start of the first race, we turned back to the dock and made our way home.
Carrying flags and leaflets, tired yet full of wonder and excitement for what the future may hold.
After all, in 2 years time, it will be our turn.