Lara’s Reflections on Leg 2

It has been more than half a month since I finished my Clipper adventure on 28th October, but I feel everything that happened on deck was just like yesterday.

I really miss the ocean blue, the sky full of stars, the sunrise and sunset everyday, even the 6-6-4-4-4 watch  system. The first three days we met strong wind and it made me seasick for the whole three days. After a terrible experience vomiting on Shona’s back and hair (I was sitting on the windward side~Big big apologies again Shona~), sweet skipper gave me a bucket and ordered me not to go anywhere without holding it. But starting from the fourth day, everything became more interesting~

In Rio, Ericka offered me this tip which she found in leg 1: A long distance sailing race is not a matter of sailing skills, but more about how to get used to the life on boat. Then this turned out to be very true. Sleeping with a big angle I sometimes had to hold onto a locker with a whole arm to prevent me falling down from the bunk. And on my mother watch day, I slept on a very high bunk since someone took mine. Justin is more than 190cm tall and he didn’t even see me there because the bunk’s big angle. Unfortunately, his strong hand caught my face when he tried to get something from the top bunk locker. Doing anything with a big angle makes us look like we were from a circus; keeping balance on the bow when Qingdao was totally a non-stop roller coaster; taking the right order for my middle east style black tea, or they definitely will serve a traditional British one. End of the tough part.

Most of the sailing days we had stable winds, there was not much tacking or gybing or sail changes, just a couple of reefs and trimming the spinnaker. Some of crews from Clipper 11-12 suggest me to think about my future on deck, since there would be lots of free time. But even it seems there was not much to do with sails, on the second to last day of my leg 2 I suddenly realized I was so occupied and had had no time to do any deep thinking. Happy hour starts:

I spent 3 nights in the tiny toilet to wait for my pet with a small bowl. Sorry for my English speaking, I call them “Shining shining animal in the ocean”. Anyone watched the “Life of Pi”? Remember during night the boat was surrounding with colorful fluorescent sea animals? Yes the real Atlantic Ocean is just like that! I heard of it in leg 1 they met a group of shining jellyfish, it was amazing. In leg 2 there were only firefly size but I still love them~ And finally after countless flushing, I caught three pets!! Oh yeah~!! Everybody on my watch all love these three. But after Grandpa Justin illuminated these three little cuties, they quickly died. During the day time, the sailing is like a safari tour in ocean. Dolphins dolphins dolphins, so many dancing dolphins and I won’t go to any aquariums any more… Also seals near Cape Town. Helming in big wind or during night was hard, but challenging, so I loved it~

Skipper Gareth is a great leader since he is a humor master. Even we got the last position in leg 2, on the arriving day he was searching for a mirror all over the yacht to help him with shaving. After he finished that, he came and showed it to everyone — he got his half right bow be shaved up! He is also a panda killer! Vicky brought a toy panda on boat as a mascot of Qingdao and Gareth killed it~! Ask more details from the killer when you get on Qingdao~!

I love them all, and I know they are suffering a terrible time on the way to Australia. Vicky used to post a short blog every two days, but start from leg 3, she was so struggle to keep this and from her blogs I know what happened. Keith, George, Liz, Frankie, Bryan are all ill; one spinnaker broke into half from the middle; every watch everybody gets all wet through… God bless you Qingdao! Keep No. 1 and you will win!

Although in leg 2 we were the last one, but this sailing experience is so memorable and every lovely crew is awesome! You made my life~! Jia you, Qingdao!

Best regards,



Ok, I admit it

I’ll go first…my name is Margaret and I am addicted to the race viewer.  I suspect that I am not alone in my constant need to see where our team have got to; I even looked at Yellow Brick whilst in church!  Not during the service I hasten to add, before and after.  It is fantastic to see how the team have put the disappointment of the previous leg behind them and are leading the pack at the moment, long may that continue.

One hymn often sung on Remembrance Sunday is the Naval hymn, Eternal Father.  For those who do not know/cannot remember it, this is the first verse:

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,

For those in peril on the sea!  

I am biased but I love that hymn.  I also think that it is rather apt for our team mates who are certainly on the sea, but hopefully not in peril.  The whole fleet has been battered by strong winds and they are in them again as I type.  It was not pleasant reading about all of the injuries and I do so hope that the current low does not result in more casualties.  Another part of the hymn springs to mind: 

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour,

From rock and tempest, fire and foe,

Protect them wheresoe’er they go

Go Qingdao, sail fast, sail safe.

Margaret Corbally

Want to know why we’ll stay dry and cozy?

Romanda here – Leg 5 crew member who is anxiously awaiting my own turn to race hard and have the time of my life!  So happy to hear our crew are doing fabulous, and thankfully staying warm as it’s getting colder as they sail in the South Atlantic.

I have been extremely lucky to have won my spot with the Henri Lloyd Gore-Tex Experience Tour! Because of this I got to take a trip up to Edinburgh and actually see the factory where Gore-Tex is made – and holy did I learn a lot! You can read a bit about my experience on my own blog here: Romanda’s London Musings

But I also wanted to share with you a fun video I made that really shows just how awesome our Gore-Tex kit is for keeping us not only dry but also allows our sweat to escape because it’s so breathable. I know I am ecstatic about this when it’s hot but wet – who wants a sauna in their jackets!? Not me that’s for sure.

So watch this quick video and have a good laugh at me 🙂

Leg 1- Olivia’s experience

Hi guys! 

Thought I’d do a post and add some pictures to share with you guys who have yet to have your adventure what life was like on board Qingdao! 

I have to say, before I left I was worried about the trip due to the fact I had been in hospital with a kidney infection just 3 weeks before race start after my level 3. However, when people say that Clipper is the best thing they have ever done, they’re not lying.


My first piece of advice would be, PACK AND THEN UNPACK HALF EVERYTHING YOU HAVE AND THEN PACK AGAIN!! I promise you, you will not need all the kit you plan to take with you! Before we started the race Gareth made us take all our personal kit off and stand next to it on the dock. He then told us that we basically needed one small bag of clothes which included shorts, t-shirt x2/3, 1 pair of trousers, underwear and socks (obviously shorts and stuff will be different for cold legs). He made us narrow what we needed down and store the rest of it in ‘long term storage’ which ended up being mostly RTWers belongings. You might think because you have a cold leg you need more things such as mid layers and thermals, but I can tell you from experience, you will not change your clothes as much as you are planning to. You will wear your clothes until they smell so bad you cannot get away with wearing them any longer (or someone tells you that you smell). Once coming off watch, I found that I was normally so tired and so hot (and as the leg went on cold) that I couldn’t be bothered to look around for my dry bag with my clean clothes in, I just wanted to get into bed! And it’s the same before coming on watch! You will do anything to have that little bit longer in bed, and so will ultimately just put on the clothes you took off 4 hours before (unless they are of course wet) 

My second piece of advice is about sea sickness…and it’s this…it will happen! Coming from someone who suffers from seasickness, I’m telling you that even if you’ve been on the water for 4 weeks, being down below on mother watch still pushes that sea sickness button. My advice is to just get on with it!! If you suffer from seasickness carry a plastic bag around with you (the head bin bags are perfect speaking from experience) and if you feel sick do not try and fight it! Be sick as you’ll feel so so much better, and then get on with whatever you were doing before! Obviously if you suffer badly don’t try doing a headsail change right after being sick but I found normally if I felt sick and just took a few minutes out to be sick, I could normally turn around and feel a thousand times better and get on with what I was doing before perfectly well. 

My third piece of advice is MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS YOU ARE ENGAGING THE SECOND WINCH (COFFEE GRINGER) IF YOU WANT TO USE IT! I was unfortunate enough to experience what happens when people don’t know you’re engaging coffee  on the start line of Brest to Rio. I can tell you when the handle of that grinder smashes you in the face it REALLY REALLY HURTS! Not only did it really really hurt, it actually smashed half of one of my teeth out which sucked because now all my photos of my Clipper experience I have a gappy smile! 

My fourth piece of advice is GO BACKWARDS DOWN THE STAIRS!!!!! I can also tell you from experience (I actually did this twice so even I didn’t learn the first time) that falling down the stairs also REALLY REALLY HURTS! Especially your back! After a couple days on board its easy to get lazy going up and down the steps but its not worth it, falling down really hurts! 

Some people have asked me about Gareth and what he was like as a skipper. I know he doesn’t give much away in his skippers blogs and lots of people, including my parents, were annoyed at this but there’s method in the madness. Due to the fact that all boats get sent all the skippers reports every morning report, Gareth (who is very tactical in the way he sails) puts very little in his blogs about what we are actually doing sailing wise as he doesn’t want to give too much away. I think personally that he’s a fantastic skipper, and although when you first meet him, he comes across very serious and focused, once being on the boat with him for a couple of days he lets his guard down and was actually lots of fun. He’s very inclusive of the crew with tactical decisions, an example of this being when we were deciding whether we go West with the rest of the fleet towards America and tack down towards the doldrums giving us a good distance to finish the whole way or take a risk of going East and picking up more wind and being on a better angle when we tacked for Rio. He basically came up on deck during happy hour and said ‘Here’s the deal, if we risk it we either come first or last, what do you guys want to do?’ And with his help and expertise we decided that we should take the risk…and all I can say is that it paid off! All the boats which went to the East came in the top 3 (over the line not overall finish). 

As for things such as happy hour and team morale and bonding, I think out of the whole fleet we were one of the teams which got on the best! Although, at times there were minor disagreements or fallings out, I think we worked so well as a team because we all had the same goal! To win (or get on that podium)! Gareth is very competitive and doesn’t hide the fact that he is in this race to win, and it’s hard not to get caught up in his excitement when we are doing well! I understand that not everyone is doing Clipper to win the race or even get a top 3 position but I don’t think that matters, the fact is that you are still part of the team and everyone respects that and allows you to get involved as much or as little as you like. But my advice would be if you’re not happy about something on your watch, speak up. Tell everyone over breakfast that you’d like to helm during this watch, or you’d like to learn how to read the GRIB files etc. You’ll be surprised how keen people will be to teach you stuff and to make sure you’re getting a go at everything. 

I have to admit it wasn’t what I was expecting! My training had prepared me for gale force winds, freezing cold conditions and huge waves…what it didn’t prepare me for was the doldrums which is basically the complete opposite to everything I have just listed. Basically imagine water which is so still that you can see your own reflection in it, now imagine that by as far as you can see on all sides. Adding to that was the pure heat which you cannot escape from!! Clipper prepare you for the cold but they do not prepare you (or don’t prepare you enough) for the heat. It ended up being 20 crew members cramped into any shade on deck you could find for most of the days in the doldrums. 

Another thing which Clipper does not prepare you for is how sore your bum is going to get!! Although at times it is very go, go go, I’m not going to lie that there is also a lot of sitting around! And sitting around for hours on end in damp clothes (everything is damp by the end even if you try drying at the back of the boat) your bum gets red and sore and numb! By the end of leg 1 I couldn’t sit down on deck without having to sit on my feet or a rope because the deck just gets too hard after a while! It’s also very hard to dry out so your bum just stays damp which sucks! So a warning, a dry bum means a non sore bum!


But overall, I had the most amazing adventure!! I saw some amazing wildlife which included whales (we nearly hit two humpbacks!) loads of dolphins, a leather back turtle and loads of birds! I got to swim in water 5000m deep in the doldrums and got to take Qingdao, our lovely little red boat, over the finish line in Rio’s harbour being looked over by Christ the Redeemer. Not being on the boat with the guys makes me sad every time I think about it (I have just started University and am trying to catch up with the work I have missed while I was away) and if I had the opportunity to carry on I would have taken it! It’s hard to describe the feeling of having completed an Ocean Race but I can say that it is hard to feel alive after it’s over! Enjoy every second of it! And take each day as it comes, if you start looking too far ahead you miss the new things that you’re experiencing everyday on the boat. 

In the words of Sir Robin, the Clipper Race was the best thing I’ve done in my life…so far! 


Olive (WOOHOO, for Lawrence) ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


Update from South Atlantic – Shona Milne

Here we are in the middle of South Atlantic – 1800 miles from South America and 1800 miles from South Africa. We have not seen single ship, plane or human except for crew on board and on our competitor yacht Jamaica in the distance.

We’ve been on the same tack for a week so feeling very lopsided walking on 40 degrees angle permanently. I havent washed for a week..fortunately no mirrors so I cant see myself….must be terrible…and heaven knows what we all smell like. In same clothes too…it’s too difficult to change. Life revolves aroung 4 hourly watches, bunk and food…. endless sail trimming and sail changes but no tacking or gybbing. We had spiinaker up today and had great fun trimmming it to increase speed by few decimals of a knot…it all counts.

We are currently lying in last position in race but skipper thinks we have made right tactic by sailing north in lighter winds to catch south of high moving north after Tristan de Cahuna. We bagged 2 points from racing gate already, Have total faith in our skipper and crew are great.all bonding well.

Had my birthday on deck and Jonathan baked choc brownies to die for…best have ever tasted…a celeb to
remember. Gorgeous day today and plenty of time for reflection on life looking at vastnesss of ocean this must be one of the few places on earth you can be and be so far from any human contact. We had wonderful moment when surrounded by pod of dolphins swimming along with the yacht this morning.

Early days traumas of seasickness and high winds etc now forgotten as we head for Cape Town….the race matters but this is all about surviving each day and the trials of life at 40 degrees on stripped down yacht.
Off to sleep now at 1400 hours…must put cream on my cracked bottom first…very painful.

Lots of love Shona

Waiting Game – Shona Milne

Arrived in Rio to join leg 2 a few days before crew changeover day. People keep asking me if I am looking forward to the leg, which I feel I should be, but too many worries about how I will cope on the boat to say ‘looking forward’ to it. That strange nervous feeling of being about to take an exam and not feeling  have prepared enough. Anyway here I  am in Rio and to calm the nerves make straight for the bars of the Lapa district with friends from One DLL late at night. Regretted it immensely the next morning but was fun.

Anticipation of boat arriving is lifting spirits and so excitingly close over last few miles. Following race every hour on Yellowbrick. Boats due to arrive early morning…then winds change and the interminable leg one becomes even longer. Get down to Marina da Gloria (not very glorious really) to see arrivals hoping for podium finish but just beaten in last few miles by PSP and Jamaica. Meet lots of friends and relatives from different yachts and great team spirit and excitement all round but also great disappointment for some families who have been here for days and may have to return home before seeing their loved ones arrive.

2pm and hear that Qingdao finishing so run up with other friends and family followers to headland and can just see Qingdao as a distant speck crossing the finish line. Shortly after, they arrive at pontoon to great applause and welcome beers. Slight disappointment on their faces but great to see them finish third although know Henri Lloyd pushing hard and have redress. Unlike Jamaica and PSP crew, who have been drinking profusely at bar , Gareth gets Qingdao crew to drink their welcome beer and then clean the boat….becoming aware of the type of thorough skipper Gareth is! Poor Lawrence is straight to work at the victualling.
Finally finish clean and then off to crew house with exhausted but happy crew.Image

So close, yet so far

Well folks – I am sure you have been as excited as myself when realizing that Team Qingdao was one of the first three yachts to escape the tiresome and frustrating doldrums! Thanks to some great strategy we, along with PSPLogistics and Jamaica-Get All Right have broken free from the pack and are now racing towards the equator (actually PSP and Jamaica have crossed it already, but we are almost there!)

This is when things pick up and we really need the support of our fans! While we are leading, it’s not over till it’s over. We know our team will work hard to get onto the podium so let’s show our support as they use their strength and stamina to cross that finish line. You can tweet messages to @TeamQindao , write a guest blog post here (contact, send messages via our Facebook account (either our personal team one or the ‘official‘ team page).

One of the things our crew will most look forward when hitting land (after seeing their loved ones) to is checking out how much their loved ones supported them during the race they just challenged through. So let’s all send loud cheers so that maybe, just maybe they can hear us in that big open sea and race ever faster to meet us in Rio!

Go Team Qingdao!


The Doldrums – Richard Evans Leg 1 crew

We’re not even there yet and have come to a grinding halt! Temp inside boat is 38 degrees and as humid as hell, can’t do anything without breaking into a sweat. The only wind comes from squalls that come cross the ocean, during one I decided to have a rain shower under the main sail, OK, I admit playing to the crowd a bit in that I got all lathered up, and then just as soon as it had started someone turned the rain off …to the huge amusement of all on board. Still, a couple of hours later a huge squall came over and I got well rinsed. All well

Love, your grain of sand xx

You can read more about Richards experience and his goal of raising funds for prostate cancer research at his blog

It’s not easier on land

As a member of the Qingdao crew who is still on land it’s a bit strange.  The feeling of not having control, and of not knowing what is going on is making me a bit crazy.

For example, when Qingdao went into stealth mode and I didn’t realise it I began panicking – what’s happened? what’s going on? is everything ok? Then of course once I realised it was stealth mode I thought – what do they have planned? Where are they going?

I am finding it a bit difficult not to be there, involved and working with my team as they race to a podium finish. Having trained with so many of them, I want to be there as they struggle through the heat, the disappointment of getting through the gate in 4th when they were so close to 3rd, of the upcoming doldrums.

Instead, I desperately check the Race Viewer every day (well, about 100 times a day, refreshing every 5 minutes…which is down from every minute during the first race) and I anxiously await the Skipper report and our crew diaries, which I am disappointed to say aren’t coming in each day as promised. And in some way I feel part of the crew again and feel I can connect with their challenges, for example cringing when reading about the tear of our spinnaker. I can’t wait until our blogs come in more frequently, especially with photos.

So until I can join them (Leg 5…ages away!) I will continue to be an armchair crew member who is sending positive vibes and believes my crew are doing everything possible to get us a podium finish!

– Romanda


Leg 1 Race 1 – by Jamie Noble RTW crew

Jamie Sept 8 028

Jamie Sept 8 068

We’re on the eve of Race 2. A long test from Brest to Rio. The crew are busily prepping the boat, winches being serviced, kit being stowed, galley being cleaned, hull being cleaned amongst a host of other items we need done today.

Odd to think it’s only been a week since we said farewell to the thronged crowds, family and friends at St Katherine’s Dock and along the Thames. So much seems to have happened, though recounting the race doesn’t seem required here. From what I have heard friends, family and fellow crew are becoming obsessed with the race viewer!

We’re pretty pleased with how the first race panned out. We had some technical problems, especially with the tack line misfiring and dropping our spinnaker near race start that saw us drop towards the back of the field after a strong start. Gareth wanted a top 5 finish so we comfortably achieved that despite that issue. We’ve heard stories of many other boats facing similar issues so we can’t really complain.

The crew are gelling well together and it seems our competitive sides are coming out. We’re determined to do well and from chatting to other crews since getting here we are one of the boats that is expected to place well.