“The team worked tirelessly and without complaint to achieve it”

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Nick Mulholland, a Quantity Surveyor from Surrey, completed a circumnavigation during the Clipper 2013-14 Race on board OneDLL. He reflects on his eleven-month adventure...

Best Moment:

There were so many it is difficult to narrow it down to one particular moment. Sailing into Sydney Harbour in second place, sunrise, family on the pontoon was definitely a special moment. Seeing Rosie Gosling walking down the pontoon in Qingdao to get back on the boat after home leave for her father’s funeral, and then having a nightmare with customs in China were some other special moments.  

But to pick one moment, it had to be the reception in London at the Race Finish and the reality that I had achieved my dream of sailing around the world and finishing on the podium – awesome!

Most Challenging Moment:

The Southern Ocean, after the massive storm had passed over and we were left in 40 knots of breeze and huge waves. We desperately needed more head sail up to get some forward motion otherwise we risked being rolled over. Most of the crew were therefore on the foredeck getting first the Yankee 3 and later the Yankee 2 up with a boat on its side and with huge waves battering us on the foredeck, and yet the team worked tirelessly and without complaint to achieve it.

Best Wildlife Moment:

We saw numerous whales, dolphins and even the odd shark. The best of these though was a whale diving about 50 metres from the boat and sending its massive tail up in the air with water pouring off it. It was a magical moment.

Most Unique moment:

The receptions in both Qingdao and Derry-Londonderry were unique in different ways. Qingdao was a huge spectacle but obviously very stage managed. Derry-Londonderry on the other hand was the tremendous warmth and interest shown by the local people and the way they completely and utterly embraced the crews into their city.

Biggest achievement:

Fighting off Derry~Londonderry~Doire on the final race to achieve the overall podium place must be up there as well as getting through the Southern Ocean and surviving the tremendous storms that were thrown at us.  

Also the Pacific leg for slightly different reasons due to starting with only 14 crew and having to cope with injuries on board reducing the watches to five people on each watch. Getting the sails down in 80 knots of wind and going back to assist in the MOB on Derry~Londonderry~Doire and being the communication relay to Clipper Race HQ deserves a mention.  

Despite giving up our podium position and later losing out to the others on the water (we came fourth in that leg) there was never a doubt in anybody’s mind that we did exactly the right thing.

‘Why am I doing this?’ moment: 

Again loads of those, getting out of your warm bunk in the middle of the night and fighting into wet foulies with the wind howling above you and a boat at 45 degrees, or getting soaked during sail changes on the foredeck just before you are due off watch.  

The Bass Strait after going through it on the way to Sydney and then twice more in the Hobart race and back - 50 knots of wind over tide every time – brutal conditions. Thankfully all forgotten once you cross the finish line and get a taste of that first beer…

‘This is why I’m doing this!’ moment:

The raw beauty of the Southern and Pacific Oceans, despite the physical challenges, are experiences that I will never have again anywhere else in the world. 

So few sailors have been through these on a racing boat with as much sail up as possible pushing as hard as possible. It is what makes the Clipper Race so unique in that ordinary people get to experience extraordinary conditions and challenge themselves to the limit. 

Finally, helming a 70 foot yacht whilst it surfs down waves and speeds in excess of 35 knots however (and beating the Skipper’s previous record) is definitely the overall winner.

Funniest moment:

There have been too many to list. I have never laughed so much with a group of people; they made even the hardest times bearable. Very often when off watch and trying to sleep there was so much laughter on deck that you wanted to get back up on deck to be part of it.

Craziest moment:

The Southern Ocean again. We were just debating whether to change headsail or go for a reef in the mainsail when BAM! We went from 25 knots to 50 knots as a squall hit us.  The reef refused to budge and the boat was massively overpowered so Olly (skipper) shouted to me to take the wheel as he climbed the mast with the words “don’t gybe!” ringing in my ears…

Feeling inspired to try the Clipper Race for yourself? 

We are now interviewing for the 2015-16 and 2017-18 races. Click here to find out more about experiencing the Race of Your Life.