Throwback Thursday: London Race Start

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We can’t quite believe that it has been almost a year today since Race Start in London.

On 1 September 2013, crowds in excess of 120,000 amassed on the UK capital to wave off the crew as they departed in the biggest Thames River fleet parade since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the start of the Clipper 2013-14 Race and its unknown adventure journey. 

Sailing under the historic Tower Bridge, the fleet was joined by a paddleship steamer, pilot boats, police boats, RIBs, spectator boats and other pleasure craft as 270 crew set off to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, on Leg 1.

At the centre of the celebrations, Meg Reilly, a 24 year-old PR Associate from New Jersey, USA was starting her round the world journey on board Henri Lloyd.  Looking back on the day, she noted: “I had visited London twice before signing up for the race, but when it came to the training and Race Start it felt so different. I wasn't there as a tourist, I was there to start an amazing journey. This was something big, and I was about to be a part of it.

“We were all so excited, especially the round the world crew. As we sailed up the Thames, we all felt like celebrities. There was so much love and support for us on a journey that when signing up, I had thought would be a journey just for myself. I soon realised that this was a journey much bigger than me and the other crew members.  

“This was a journey about turning strangers into friends into family. A journey with and against people just like us on other teams, and of course, a journey for all our friends, families, and fans who we might not even know.”

Meg first heard about the Clipper Race when she saw it featured online in a CNN article titled: ‘A sudden change of tide: The people who quit their day job to sail the world.’ Meg read the article, found out more about the race and did exactly that! Her Dad was in the U.S Navy and growing up hearing sailing stories, Meg says she realised there was more to life than the daily 9 to 5 routine.

“When I first signed up for this journey, I thought I was going to be all on my own. I didn't expect any family or friends to see me off, but last minute my Dad was able to come. It was really special to have him there as his experience in the Navy at my age was what had inspired me to sail around the world.”

Meg adds: “The highlight of the day was my crew's "performance" for the flotilla of supporters going down the Thames. On the way to London a week before, we came up with a bunch of pretty corny sailing-inspired dance moves. So we were blasting music down the Thames and busting some moves for our loving fans; almost everyone was involved, old and young alike. I had a huge smile on my face looking to my right and left, surrounded by goofy crewmates... These were my kind of people and we were going to have a great adventure.”

Everyone from teachers to sports stars, professionals, lorry drivers, nurses, film directors and more team together to take on the world’s toughest sailing conditions – with over 4,000 novices evolving into ocean racers since the Clipper Race began in 1995. 

The next edition of the Clipper Race is now 70 per cent full.  If you are interested in being a crew member in the 2015-16 race and to find out more, CLICK HERE