As the Clipper Race fleet prepares to take on the power of the mighty Pacific Ocean, one crew member is looking forward to her very own fanfare when she completes the 5,800 nautical mile race under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
“Cal Sailing Club, the community club which I am a member of is going to come out and meet me in the keel boats and give me a commodore salute when I arrive. It’ll mean so much to see the support from my friends after what is expected to be one of the most challenging ocean crossings of the entire Clipper race,” explained Stephanie Evans, 29, a publishing editor from Oakland, San Francisco Bay.
Last year the Clipper Race launched a competition with San Francisco BritWeek to win a place aboard Leg 6 from Qingdao, China to San Francisco, USA. Chosen from a final shortlist of five candidates, Stephanie discovered she had won a berth aboard GREAT Britain for the Pacific Ocean challenge. British Olympic gold medallist and 2013 America’s Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie was on hand to deliver announce the winner at a ceremony at South Beach Yacht Club.
Stephanie recalled: “The moment I found out I had won a berth on the race I just couldn’t believe it. Fast forward ten months and here I am in Qingdao, China preparing for the Pacific Ocean crossing!”
Stephanie undertook her training in the UK in July. While aboard GREAT Britain during Race10 and upon arrival in San Francisco she will act as a BritWeek ambassador, something she is looking forward to fulfilling to support this annual initiative to promote all things British..
“Growing up in South Africa, having a British family, living in England as a South African but also being British and living in the USA as a British/South African, I feel like America and the United Kingdom are both my home With that unique perspective I feel like I am bringing the two cultures together as an ambassador,” she added.
With less than 24 hours until Race 10 start, the BritWeek ambassador has no reservations about what her biggest challenges will be:
“There you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on this huge boat crashing through waves and you have to complete these really challenging complex tasks. There is just no way getting around it, you have to change a sail, you have to put in a reef and you will have to helm the boat and be a part of a team. You’re wet, you’re cold, you’re probably hungry and you have to be at your best.”
After tackling some of the toughest sailing conditions in the month-long ocean race, there is just one thing Stephanie will be looking forward to: “I just can’t wait to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I will keep it at the forefront of my mind on a bad night, when I’m freezing, tired and want to give up - it’s my beacon of hope.”
Race 10 of the 16 race series from Qingdao China to San Francisco, USA starts Sunday 16 March and is estimated to arrive in San Francisco between 8-12 April.