I was three when I started sailing. My parents got me into the sport – we always sailed as a family and my brothers and I grew up around boats. I love the fact that no two days on a boat are ever the same. And I still get a big thrill from watching the land disappear until I have the ocean all to myself.
I’m currently preparing for the 2018 Golden Globe Race. This means sailing non-stop, solo, around the world, without outside assistance, against 29 competitors. I’ve always enjoyed the physical and emotional challenge of sailing, but the hardest part of this race will be spending nine months on my own at sea. I’ve never been on a boat for that long before.
The rules of the race mean that I have to sail in a yacht designed before 1988, and without using modern technology such as autopilot and a Global Positioning System (GPS). Sailing with GPS is hard enough! Without it... well... there will be times when I simply won’t know where I am. I’ll have a good idea, hopefully; but I’ll be guided by the stars, so if I can’t get a celestial fix because of cloud, there could be days or weeks when there’s not much that I can do. I can’t tell you how daunting that seems!
Sleep will also be difficult. If I’m near the coast, I’ll jump on deck, scan the horizon and if there’s nothing around I’ll go to sleep for 20 minutes. Offshore and away from shipping, I‘ll go to sleep until, say, the wind picks up and the boat wakes me. Even then, I’ll never be asleep for more than an hour and a half at a time.
I’m being sponsored by DHL, so my boat – a Rustler 36 class yacht – is sure to feature some red and yellow! I’ve also got to stow 10 months’ worth of food and supplies on board, which will be packed and shipped by DHL.