Life on the Other Side: Clipper Race director Mark Light

Mark Light is race director of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which covers 40,000 nautical miles over 11 months. Here he talks travel logistics

Plain sailing
I travel to all the stopover ports, but take the easy route – I fly rather than sail. I get to go home between most stopovers, so the longest I’ll be away for at any one time is two months. The crews and skippers will be away the full 11 months. They set off from London on 1 September, and won’t return until August 2020.

We always say the yachts have arrival destinations, not arrival times

Early check-in
From a sailing perspective, travel plans are affected if you’ve had a fast race and arrive at a destination early. Accommodation is pre-booked, which adds a layer of complexity, so flexibility is key to ensure all the crew have a room to stay in.

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race crew at work. Credit: imagecomms

Supporting act
The challenge for me, race organisers, and joining race crews or their supporters (family and friends) is making sure we arrive on time. The arrival window for the fleet is worked out months in advance and the race crews are reliant on the weather, so we always say the yachts have arrival destinations, not arrival times.

Packing light
Crew must take all their luggage onboard, and we share a list of recommended items. Clothing-wise, sailors need three layers – a base layer, warm mid-layer and waterproofs – and items based on the climate in the various stopovers. They have up to 20kg. They need to be selective and not bring anything they won’t use over the 40,000 nautical mile race.

Race crew

Copyright James Robinson

Turning green
Most people only suffer with some form of seasickness for a couple of hours or days until they get over it, but for some that seasickness window happens for the first day every time they set sail. A good thing to do is to take a turn on the helm and steer the boat. That way you’re concentrating on steering and looking out at the horizon. Apart from the actual motion, a lot of seasickness is caused by nervousness or anxiety about actually being seasick.

Staying flexible
As race organisers, our official travel supplier, ATPI Sports Events, ensures we have flexible fares in the event yachts arrive early or late or, as has happened in the past, to a different destination altogether! This impacts on accommodation, too. ATPI also helps arrange travel for the race organisers, supporting crew and their friends and families with their plans to get to the stopovers on the global route. There are so many complexities, so it’s a relief, as we need to focus on the task of managing 700 crew and 11 yachts as they race around the world.

Briefing

Hop onboard
The Clipper Race really pushes you out of your comfort zone and you get to do things most people will never experience. The feeling of accomplishment is unsurpassable. You’ll also make friends for life with people you’ve been through intense highs and lows with, people you know you can 100 per cent rely on. There’s so much to take away from the race experience you won’t regret it.

Entries are open for the 2021-2022 race, go to clipperroundtheworld.com

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