On the eve of the next Clipper leg it is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. For me tomorrow marks the end of a two year journey for me. The adventure of a lifetime.
I have made countless friends and memories for life and shared experiences that few will be able to comprehend.
Little did I know that night in Cape Town would yield such a special time. There I was bickering with mum defending the merits of Internet dating when we both did that roll-over and cross your arms thing in our respective beds. She was convinced I’d meet a murderer (I did meet someone who’d just been released from prison) while I hoped that I’d meet someone special (I didn’t). As she fell asleep I started to google on my iPhone.
Life was tough at the time and I was silently crying out for help. I was going through a bit of turmoil, lacking direction and crushing myself under worries and stress, much of which were self imposed.
I’d been suffering with a chronic knee injury which crippled my potential to cycle at a decent level. The competitive animal in me was getting hungry. I was also missing the opportunity to clear the mind, something that exercise does so readily and is vital when you work in the environment I do. I was getting overcome with work pressure and losing my way a little after ten years in a similar seat. Perhaps most challenging was the court case I had just been through with my ex. I needed to get out of a hole and there I was hoping that Google could help me do just that.
I found myself navigating the Clipper site after dismissing The Everest summit (too common/not good odds), an attic marathon (my knees), trekking to the pole and so on. I’m a desperately impatient person and so their non-mobile-friendly site as it was back then was driving me mad. To save my blood pressure I decided that instead of reading up about it I would just apply. What could possibly go wrong. I remember naively thinking that the interview was part of a comprehensive selection process hence the endless essay style questions. There I was tapping away on the iPhone answering questions about challenges and the like. It was only on the last ‘accept here’ page that the price popped up. The perils of a poor website. I choked when I saw that this thing that I was ‘being selected for’ was going to cost me £25,000. A moment of hesitation and then a ‘fuck it’ press of the button. I have never looked back.
You can imagine Sarah, my boss’ reaction when i returned from holiday and said that I needed a day off for an interview. Her immediate response was that I wasn’t meant to tell her if I was interviewing elsewhere. When I told her of the adventure I think she thought I was officially mad. Being as supportive as always and an amazing lady she wished me luck and devised a plan to approach management about my 3-6 month break.
Clearly the rest is history.
I can now completely understand why some 40% of participants get promoted the year after they return from the race. The opportunity to broaden horizons and test yourself is unrivalled. It has taught me that I can learn something completely alien and become good at it. That I can successfully lead a team even when I’m perhaps not an expert. That friends are those that love and care for you when the going gets tough and times are hard. I hope I can be that person for many. I’m more resilient than I had thought, particularly my hair! And that I’m not invincible when up against Mother Nature.
Goodbyes are always hard. Really hard. I suspect tomorrow will bring some of the hardest I’ve had. The lump in the throat that you get at airports will be dwarfed as Missi and the 11 others and their respective crews sail off into the distance on to Vietnam.
The lovely Rachel (leg 7 and 8) and I are being taken out on a local yacht to watch the parade of sail from the water. I’m sure that will distract as will the lovely dinner and glass of wine after.
I wish Missi and the crew all the best for a fast, safe and fun passage. I’m gutted I’m not there but look forward to welcoming them down the route. I’m proud to have been a warrior and to leave the boat in 5th position overall.
Sail your socks off. XX