Life on Board
A Clipper 70 is not a place for the faint hearted or work-shy. There are many roles to play on deck. Your race team will be trained to be a self-sufficient unit, capable of handling any situation, no matter how severe the conditions.
As well as the roles listed below, you will also learn how to be a plumber, electrician, tactician, navigator, cleaner, IT specialist, baker, sail repairer, weather forecaster and medic.
The definition of the roles below is not absolute; each team finds different defining edges to each job. Each watch should be able to fill each slot so when all the crew is up, there will be double the hands in each area.
Runs the foredeck - which means being involved in most manoeuvres during racing. The Bowman also calls distance to the start line and can get colder and wetter (and more often) than anyone else. Of all the high adrenaline, all-action roles on the boat, this is the pinnacle.
Backs up the bowman, prepares the sails in readiness for hoisting and is involved with all sail changes. Imagine being on a rollercoaster while icy water is thrown in your face… that’s what mid bow can sometimes feel like! The Mid-bowman must be able to anticipate what those in the cockpit are doing - and what the bowman needs.
Passes the essential communication from the cockpit to the bow, hoists the sails, sweats, lifts, carries… and never complains. The brawn - and the brains.
The fulcrum of the team, the Pitman makes everything happen. The boat psychic, the Pitman not only controls the halyards, but anticipates the bowman, mastman and mid bow. With great organisational skills, and always calm under pressure, the Pitman can do ten things at once.
The power house. The grinders control the sheet, trimming the sails constantly with every wind shift and every course alteration. They work the coffee grinder which turns the primary winches to pull the sheet, altering the shape of the sail. They are the ones you’ll see on their knees with bright red faces after every tack!
Trimmers are pictures of concentration - watching the sails and commanding the grinder. They keep the boat moving fast, consistently fine tuning the sails to make the most of every change in wind speed and direction. Lose focus and you lose miles.
A vital and often undervalued job. With wind filling the headsails putting tonnes of forward pressure on the mast, the Backstay provides an essential opposite force - which needs to be changed on every tack. This also impacts on sail trim and if the Running Backstay doesn’t time everything perfectly, the mast will come down, so it’s a vital role to get right!
The Helmsman is in constant communication with everyone on deck, anticipating boat movement, waves and wind to drive the boat as fast as possible. They need to be at one with the boat and the ocean and it takes a challenging combination of strength, delicate touch, concentration and anticipation to do the job well.
As with every role on board, the crews will take turns in fulfilling every task. Cleaning and cooking in a galley that is bucking and rolling is no exception - and tasty, nutritious and hot meals are an essential morale booster. A happy crew is a fast crew, but if all you can offer is some cold baked beans because you are struggling with the conditions, don’t be surprised to see heads drop and miles lost.
Chosen by the Skipper, who will usually also select an assistant Watch Leader and may choose to rotate the position on each race or leg. Watch Leaders ensure that the skipper’s tactics are being followed and that on-watch is rotated around the roles, whilst continually ensuring that concentration levels remain high and maximum boat speed is achieved at all times.