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Joining Team Vicky

Hundreds of the Clipperati gather for crew allocation. Photo: Credit: Chris Paxton

There are over 650 people taking part in the Clipper Race who are divided up into 12 teams. That process was completed last month at Crew Allocation Day in Portsmouth. Dividing up crews is a tricky process - every team needs a mix of experienced sailors and novices (like me) plus people who know things about engineering and medical treatment. And it helps if a few can cook.

As I have not much to contribute to any of these areas, I suspect I was one of the last names to be allocated. But I have been assigned to Team Vicky.

Team Vicky gather for a crew briefing. Credit: Chris Paxton

Team Vicky consists of 58 people from all over the world. Most of us have met up only once at Crew Allocation Day and have been firing emails around the globe since then as we start planning. And boy, is there a lot of planning! Suggestions for a team song have filled my inbox, there is the team kit to design, suntan lotion to buy, extra training to organise... the list goes on.

Supervising all of this is our skipper Vicky Ellis whose job it is to get the team and our boat (officially known as CV23 so far) around the world in one piece.

Skipper Vicky Ellis introduces herself. The quote on the board is from an advert, allegedly placed by Ernest Shackleton. Credit: Chris Paxton

Vicky has already sailed across the Atlantic and the Pacific so she has done plenty of ocean sailing. She told me a story about when her boat was hit by another boat near Antigua, leaving it with a large hole in the side, an injured crew and drifting towards rocks. She dealt with that situation... but hopefully, it won't happen to us.

Vicky said she had taken up the challenge because of the elements it will involve: "Clipper provides the opportunity to combine my love of ocean racing and sail training. The package of taking a team, building them and bringing them home." At Crew Allocation Day, she gave us all wristbands with the team mission statement "...to do something amazing".

However, there is one thing that Vicky warned us never to underestimate when ocean racing - the weather. As she put it: "Mother Nature's the only thing you can't control. You've got to respect her."

Clipper racers facing a battle with Mother Nature. Credit: Clipper Ventures

Next week, I'm off to do the second level of training which will involve several days at sea and a sea survival course in a school swimming pool. I'll be taking my Team Vicky wristband with me...

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