Casting off…Former Clipper Race crew member launches sailing book

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Former Clipper Race crew member Emma Bamford has been celebrating this week at the launch of her first ever book, Casting Off, which sold out on the first day and is currently ranked number one on Amazon for sailing books.

Emma, a 35 year-old former journalist now living in Derbyshire took part in the 2009-10 edition of the race as a media crew member working for The Independent.

Emma raced on board homeport entry Hull & Humber, leaving the city for the first race to La Rochelle, France and then re-joining for the final leg of the race, back to the UK.

Emma says: “It was very weird seeing 100,000 people turn out to wave us off from Hull. People stopped to shake our hands as we walked from the stage to the boat. It was like being a celebrity! We made it to La Rochelle in three days. We crossed the line in third place, which was amazing, but then we had points deducted as we'd strayed into the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) in the English Channel. Oops!

“I flew home from La Rochelle but re-joined Hull & Humber in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada the following June. Just before the Transatlantic race I'd handed in my notice at work. The Clipper Race had given me a real sailing bug and I was tired of my life in London - working really hard, being stressed and also being single while all my friends seemed to be marrying and having babies around me. I was 31. So I ended up buying a one-way ticket to Borneo to join a stranger (and his cat) on his boat.”

On completing her Clipper Race experience, Emma became hooked on sailing and took part in various offshore races joining different crews and travelling around the world from Borneo to Malaysia, Thailand, the Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, Oman, Italy the US and British Virgin Islands.

“While I was away travelling I kept a diary and I thought it might make a nice book and started writing. When Brendan Hall, skipper of the winning Clipper 2009-10 Race team Spirit of Australia brought out his book, Team Spirit in 2012, I went along to the launch and met his editor, who kindly agreed to take a look at what I'd written. Eventually, after extensive re-writing, she took me on and I spent the next year finishing Casting Off.”

Emma adds: “At the moment my sailing is limited to occasional weekend in the Solent. I am working freelance as a writer and editor and I am concentrating on my writing. I am hoping to release a novel next - with a sailing theme, of course!”

IMAGE: Emma in the middle in the blue and white stripe top, with fellow Clipper Race alumni