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Admitting fear in challenging times

— #Challenges #Teamwork

As you are aware, our Technical Director is taking on a huge challenge and undertaking leg 1 of the Clipper Round the World sailing race.  

With all the wonders of modern technology to hand, we are only able to receive news once a day, from an appointed crew member. Yesterday, we had an update from Dan talking about the emotional side of race. Just like in business, it isn’t plain sailing (see what we did there?!) and sometimes you have to face your fears and lean on your team. 


Let’s get serious. For those who know me fairly well, I don’t ‘do’ feelings and emotions – well, that’s not entirely true - for the most part, I don’t talk about them. I’ve lost count of the amount of times my better half (aka my number one crew supporter) has tried to peer into my head – usually unsuccessfully. This is the Standard Operating Procedure for most guys.

Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on the emotion), hiding anything onboard a 70ft racing yacht is no mean feat. One night I thought about just how much personal space you get – half a bunk (considerably smaller than a standard single bed shared with one other) and a half-meter cubed of locker space (not quite big enough to fit in), which for some unlucky people is like a mini swimming pool.

Therefore, in a bid to come out of this journey a better person, here are just a few of the feelings going on in my head, and ones that are most certainly echoed by the rest of the crew.

Being Scared – on night watches, when it’s pitch black outside, there is no definition between the sea and the sky. You’re helming straight into a squall, the boat is heeling over at 40 degrees (feels like 60) with the entire lower rail in the water. There’s horizontal rain in your face and it’s blowing 40+ knots. It varies between being scared about whether you can keep the boat under control, whether it’s going to get worse, or whether it’s time to venture to the foredeck for a headsail change.

Being Apprehensive – we’ve had some tough watches, we’ve also had some pretty easy cruising. What we’ve not had though, is consistently strong winds, massive swells and ice-cold waves over the deck. There’s always been that 'light at the end of the tunnel’ waiting for us when conditions get a bit fruity, be it a few minutes, hours or days. What we’ve experienced so far is a fraction of what we will be enduring in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. I don’t think there is any crew member not feeling a little bit nervous about how full-on those legs are going to be. They are going to be an endurance challenge like no other.

Being Frustrated – our performance so far has been a total roller-coaster. We’ve made some great tactical decisions, some poor. We’ve had both our fair share of poor and good luck through changing weather forecasts. Right from the start, our mentality has been to let everyone have a bash at all jobs – helming, foredeck, navigation and trim – we never wanted individuals to become masters of a specific role. It’s a long race and we decided, as a team, this was the best approach. This was working perfectly. From a combination of minor mistakes compounded together, we’ve gone from encroaching on a podium place (pre-Doldrums), to slipping back through the fleet. We’re doing everything we can to keep pace – it’s 110% effort all round, and there’s some serious frustrations about what more we can do to improve position and performance.

Almost a month at sea and all that we’ve battled so far, the cracks are starting to appear – exacerbated by the fact that most of us are running out of clean and dry pants. Emotions are running on overdrive right now. Regardless of this, there’s been no mutiny, no arguments, no fisticuffs and certainly no tantrums. There are still smiles all round. We might not roll into port in a podium place (although there is still hope), but we will certainly march into the closest pub to start refuelling with our heads held high, laughing and joking along the way. It’s testament to just what the crew (and boat) are capable of enduring, both physically and emotionally.

So, there we go, a slight change to the standard blog about food and heads (which rule our days most of the time) – roll on the Team Liverpool 2018 arrival in Punta del Este – I hope you’re ready for us!

Written by Dan Eastley

Remember to “Think Pink” Team Liverpool 2018

 Originally posted on the Clipper Round the World website.



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