CLIPPER RACE 1, BLOG 1: Organisation, Dolphins & Bioluminescence

Our Brand Ambassador James gives us his first Clipper Race update from Race 1  – St Katharines’s Docks London, to Portimao, Portugal…


Over the last couple of days all of us on board are starting to adjust to life on board. A few small but important differences from training. Hot bunking isn’t as bad as it sounds. It is even quite civilised with a friendly bunk buddy. We tidy the space when we get up. Everything in the one locker, the bag rolled up and at the foot of the bed, your buddies placed ready.

The snag that we have all begun to adjust to is planning for anything you might need on your watch. In training, you just popped back to your personal bunk and pulled out your stuff from one of several lockers. Now you would have to reach over your sleeping friend and rumage around a locker to pull out that jumper you now need. Or torch for the watch that becomes evening…

Planning ahead is definitely a must, the 6 Ps – proper prior preparation prevents poor performance, just as much a requirement for the boat as for us as individuals.


I‚Äôd better get this over with. We had dolphins along side the boat this morning which was a great sight. The crew on watch all saw them. We didn‚Äôt wake the others, We definitely didn‚Äôt wake the skipper!  We expect many, many more. A report of totals now and then might happen. Oceanic ornithology, now that‚Äôs a different story for a later date.


Hopefully that got your attention. As we settle into the onboard routine we are gently beginning to be introduced to what is in store for all of us on all the boats no matter how long our individual race. It will be a life changing experience. For some of us, including me, it will be the next eleven months of our lives.

We monitor our fleet position and progress; every watch a target to aim for. Good progress on many, the expected challenges of ordinary people like us getting used to the sail changes and routines in others. Even just steering in a straight line is harder than it looks sometimes.

We are properly offshore. No land in sight or easy reach. Day and night no boats or nav. lights. No light pollution. The stars when we see them are brilliant and the milky way is clear. Not the modern experience at all. Certainly, a link back to the past and the earlier age of sail. The constellations are more complete and make more sense, so something to learn over time.

From our first night the whole watch commented on the little bright flashes of blue light as the boat pushed through the water, the foam boiling away from the bows. Tiny signals from the deep. Surely a taste of greater things to come in the later legs. On the theme of stars, after helming both up wind and with a spinnaker at night, I have come to the conclusion that night navigation is actually quite easy.

Second star on the right, and straight on ‘til morning.

Next stop Punta Del Este, Uruguay