Top Tips For Clipper Race Level One Training

I’ve just got back from Clipper Race level one training, I am very tired, am black and blue on both legs, and my hand and arm muscles are aching. But despite all that, I feel absolutely great. I’ve completed my level 1 training, I scored 1 (out of 5) on all of the pieces we were trained on and have been put forward to be a watch leader on the race. It has been an absolutely incredible week of learning and the sense of achievement is fantastic. I will talk more about the week in a  later post, but for now I just wanted to share my top tips for anyone who is preparing for their level one training.

  1. Pack toiletries for washing!

You will probably be moored up in Gosport marina or Cowes marina each night, so you’ll have access to showers and toilets. Most of us in my group thought we would be offshore for the whole week with no access to showers, so we didn’t bring Shampoo/Conditioner or shower gel. On the race you obviously won’t have shower access, but on level one training you will, so why not make the most of it!?

2. Bring a good quality quick drying towel

The environment on-board is naturally very wet, so a quick drying towel is a must. They come in varying quality though, so make sure you go for a good one. Mine was an extra large one from Mountain Warehouse, and I would highly recommend it.

3. Pack seasickness remedies

Although no one on my level one training was unfortunate enough to be struck down with sea sickness, most of us were prepared. I packed seabands and also tablets which I got from Boots. It was great just to have the peace of mind, knowing that they were there if needed.


4. Take a drinking bottle with you

Dehydration at sea is massively heightened by the breeze rapidly taking moisture away from your skin, so it is essential that you stay hydrated. I found that drinking out of small cups was not the best and I wasn’t drinking enough, so after a couple of days I found a water bottle and refilled it regularly. I recommend that you take one with you and preferably one with a sports cap, so you don’t need to worry about losing the lid.

5. Sneak in some sweet or savoury treats

The cooker and hob aboard the Clipper Race training boats are very very slow when it comes to making an evening meal, so we often found ourselves sitting around waiting for dinner and in much need of a snack after a hard days work. There will be lots of biscuits and crisps on board (courtesy of Clipper), but it was nice to share snacks that we’d brought on board ourselves as it added a bit of variety. I took Nakd bars and a couple of bags of cashew nuts with me, which were different to anything anyone else brought and went down very well.

6. Earplugs!

If you’re a light sleeper it’s probably worth packing some ear plugs! You will be sleeping with a lot of other people, who will all be very tired and likely to fall in to deep sleeps. Which gives rise to the inevitable ‘snoring choir’! One evening I believe there were 5 or 6 people snoring to different pitches and tunes, a friend recorded it and much hilarity ensued. But if you’re a light sleeper then you’d best prepare yourself with a set of ear plugs 🙂

7. Rest up ahead of your busy week

Level one training is tough, there is a lot to learn so you will be mentally tired, and there is a lot of hard work to be done, so you will be physically tired. I would recommend that you get a good nights sleep beforehand and try to be as well rested as possible beforehand.

8. Points of sail and points of sail….

I think it was hugely beneficial to have read the level one training section of the crew manual. The key things that I think are important to know and understand are your points of sail in terms of boat aspect to the wind (see diagram below), and also knowing the names of each corner and side of the sail itself (i.e luff, foot and leech, and clew, head and tack). Just knowing and understanding those terms will help you massively as you will be told them and then expected to know them from then on in. So you might be asked to grab the clew, or hank on from the luff and you will be expected to know what this means.


9. Don’t rush out and buy all your kit

It is massively useful to have certain bits and bobs (i.e. thermals, fleece lined trousers, and deck shoes), but I would strongly recommend that you don’t rush out and buy everything just yet. Everyone will bring different kit on-board and it was really useful to see what people had and pick up tips – sailing boots were a particular hot topic with the skipper giving some great advice on brands and types to go for. You won’t need a head torch, or a sailing knife at this stage, so save your pennies for now. Plus, if there is anything you want to quickly buy (and I do mean ANYTHING) there is a great chandlers right next to the training office and marina, it’s a treasure trove shop which sells everything you could possible imagine from clothing to wet bags, to books and trinkets, so if there is something you really want, you will be able to buy it there – plus they will give you a 10% discount from being part of the Clipper Race. The other reason not to buy all the kit, is because after this week you may decide that this really isn’t for you (one person from my group did just that), and it would of been a huge waste of money if he had of spent a fortune on kit beforehand.

10. Wet bags

Wet bags are a good investment, I had one big one which meant I had to root through everything and could never find what I wanted. My tip here is to have a big bag with several smaller wet bags inside, so you can get organised with your stuff – this worked well for others. And if you don’t want to spend out on wet bags just yet, then carrier bags or bin liners will work just as well 🙂

11. Sailing time

My final point to be prepared for is the fact that you won’t be sailing all week. I had naively expected (as had others) to arrive on the boat at 5pm and be out sailing at 6pm, to be offshore for the whole week and to be ‘hardcore’ sailing for the entire time. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking! Of course there is lots of learning and teaching that needs to happen before you can go sailing. Learning about how the boat works, all the jargon, all the jobs that need to be done, and much more. We had a good day and a half of being moored up and being taught before we slipped our lines and went sailing, so be prepared for that and be patient, your time out on the water will come and it will be well worth the wait 🙂

Not sure what to pack? – here’s my packing checklist….

Good luck with your Clipper Race level one training! I hope you enjoy it and get everything out of it that you’re hoping for. Let me know how you get on either in the comments below or on twitter (@shewhosails), and if you’ve got any more top tips of your own then please feel free to add them in the comments, so that others can benefit from your level one training wisdom.



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