Level One Clipper Race Training – What to expect…

Level one Clipper Race training was quite different to what I expected, and I think all of my crewmates would agree! For some it was tougher, for some it was easier, but for all of us it was super fun. I have previously blogged about my top tips on what to take for L1, but in this post I am going to describe in more detail what to expect from the week.

The People….

I think that my training crewmates are fairly reflective of the type of people that generally take part in the Clipper Race – they were an awesome bunch, all from very different backgrounds – we had a dairy farmer, a retired MD, a sales manager, a political adviser, a geophysicist, among others! The mix of ages and backgrounds was great, we had so much to talk about and everyone had something unique to give. And despite the mix, we all had one common thread that ran through us all… we were all very determined, independent and ambitious people with the race in our sites. This was our glue, and it was very powerful. Some of the friends I made during the week, will I hope remain friends for a very long time. A few of us have booked on to do our L2 together, and we’re all in regular contact.

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Training crewmates (from L-R: Me, Dave, Chris, Simon, Carol, Claire, Martin, Yarna, Philip, Moxey, Ian, Lyndsey, and Peter)

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all plain sailing on the ‘people front’ – we did have a mini power struggle at points between some of the men, but this only taught us that communication is key, as is respecting the team and the contribution everyone has to make. Everyone takes turns in leading different exercises – I enjoyed leading, and it generally went well under my watch – I think I benefited from the fact that I lead a team in my day job and have done for many years… I am used to leading men and women of all ages, so for me it felt quite natural to be ‘in charge’.  In fact, I have been put forward as a watch leader for the race which is quite exciting!

Our training Skipper and 1st mate (Simon and Carol) were great fun, with lots of banter, they led and trained us very well. They had time for everyone and gave us all confidence in what we were doing.

The format…

For our week, we arrived at 5pm on the Friday evening, we had a briefing on the boat for a few hours and then went to the pub! Not what we were expecting on night 1. On day 2 we were ashore all day learning about boat safety, terminology, how to load and ease a winch, points of sail and sail anatomy. Again, that night we went to the pub (there is a theme here!) And it’s also worth noting that because we were ashore we had access to lovely toilets and showers.

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It was day 3 before we actually went sailing, and by then we were itching to get out there. We practiced some of what we had been taught ashore (including Man Overboard drills) and hoisting various sails. We were split in to two teams and took it in turns to do various tasks. A rota system was put in to place for two people at a time to cook the various meals throughout the day. The rest of the week was very similar, with us continually practicing what we’d learnt with more and more pressure applied each time, be it less people doing the job, or less time to do it. It was great fun! We were moored up either in Gosport or on the Isle of Wight, and sailed during the day. We did have one evening of night sailing, which was great fun.

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Man overboard drills…

There was also opportunities for mask climbs, and we all had to have a go at rowing a dinghy – both of which were very entertaining!

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Me at the top of the 90ft mast

On the final night, we went for a crew meal at a local restaurant and a ‘rival’ from the other watch and I organised a 10 question quiz – their was friendly rivalry between the two watches which gave way for a great evening.

At the end of the week you will actually of gained a qualification – RYA Competent Crew.

Food

A rota will be established and you will be expected to muck in and cook breakfast, lunch and dinner 2 or 3 times over the week alongside someone else – you will be affectionately known as ‘the mothers’ and your job is to make sure everyone  else aboard is well fed and watered. You will also need to do the cleaning up afterwards!

The provisions were good, with any intolerance’s catered for. On the menu was Spag bol, sausages and mash, curry, soup, and other hearty meals.

Kit

You will be provided with salopettes and a waterproof jacket (your outerlayer), you will also be provided with a Clipper issue lifejacket. I have previously blogged about top tips on what to take with you and also a checklist of the kit I took, so if you want to know more then check out those posts for some useful tips.

Sleeping

Your bunk will be in the sail locker, affectionately known as ‘the ghetto’ which I think kind of sums it up. It’s crowded, damp and smelly – all part of the fun right?! On training you will have your own bunk and plenty of storage space next to it to store your kit. On night one, we were all very polite and it was a little odd sleeping with 10 strangers! Most of us slept lightly, but after the 1st full day and as the week moved on we all got to know each other more and were a lot more relaxed, we also slept much more deeply as tiredness kicked in. The bunks are actually surprisingly comfortable, but remember to bring your ear plugs for when the snoring choirs starts up at night!

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Bed for the week!

Have a great level one training week, and good luck with the rest of your Clipper Race adventure 🙂

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