Crew Changeover: Meet Tony Griffiths

17 June 2016

As the Leg 8 crew prepare for their challenge across the Atlantic towards Derry-Londonderry, Den Helder and the glory of the race finale in London today, we caught up with Tony Griffiths, who has been following his team IchorCoal since the race started some 10 months ago.

Name: Tony Griffiths
Technology Solutions
Wiltshire, UK
Legs/ Team:
8, IchorCoal

How did you hear about the Clipper Race and what led you to sign up?
Picture the scene… it was a 0627am train from Swindon to London Paddington. The quiet carriage is packed with commuters who are either cuddling their morning coffee fix, or staring out of the window, thinking ..."Oh joy. Another day of fun in London. I just can't wait to get to work and revel in the rat-race of life, that’s so DULL..."

Yeah, inspiring isn’t it? So, there I was, battling my demons, trying to ignore seat 56D's incessant snoring. And seat number 58A with his rap hip-hop busting his earphones with tish-tish-tish...

Oh hang on, what’s this GWR magazine stuffed into the set pocket? Oh well, beats Dan Brown I suppose. Hey, Clipper Race! "Achieve something remarkable..." Wow, that sounds awesome. Do they have a quiet carriage? Perhaps not...But hang on, what have I got to lose? Crikey, just imagine that. Actually doing something that pushes you both mentally and physically (marriage?) and at the end you can look yourself in the mirror and say…" You did it buddy. You're over 50, wear glasses and lost your hair 25 years ago, but well done ole' boy. You did it!"

OK, where do I sign?!

Why did you choose Leg 8?
I chose Leg 8 as this was the only leg that my daughter could be there to join me. Bless her, she's only 15 and rubbish Dad (me) can’t afford to take her off to Australia just yet. I was in London with her to welcome the previous Homecoming crew at Race Finish, and we were completely blown away by the whole experience – it’s just an amazing occasion.

Did you have any previous sailing experience before taking part in your race training?
Yes. I have. I completed a Competent Crew course about 10 years ago on a 36 footer. Other than that, I have selection of ducks that I skipper a pretty tricky course in the bath. They're not very good at tacking. But then again, I don’t think I'd be very good with only wings. And being plastic...

What are you most looking forward to and why?
The evening watches. In training, I really found this quite amazing. There you are, bashing across the ocean and you just have the sound of the waves crashing over the bow, the occasion creak from the lines. And if it's not howling rain/sleet/snow, you look up at the millions of stars. And take a moment to reflect and think, "This is just an amazing place to be".

What do you think will be the most challenging and why?
I'm really bad at being organised when being on Mother Duty. It seems I need four pots, when everyone else seems to operate like a finely tuned machine. I'm not bad at cooking...Just that I'm not that good at getting all the right ingredients in the right place. A well fed crew is a happy crew. I think.

Are you competitive?
Yes, I am. Ask my daughter. Holiday on Isle of Wight and I set up the cricket set for us to have a little play on. I think..."Right Tony. Your reputation is on the line here. You won best batsman of the year at RAF Lyneham, so don’t let an 11 year old bowl you out".

First ball, I smashed it about 3 miles, straight into a mass of bramble bushes…

End result...lost ball, broken bat, distraught daughter, idiot Dad award goes to me...Oops.

What do you hope to achieve from the experience?
Well, I think it will be a huge sense of "I did it". And then have a think about what else I can do. But I really hope that I can keep in touch with as many "Clipperites" as possible for a very long time. An ex-work colleague of mine did the Global Challenge about 10 years ago. He still says how much he thinks about what a fantastic experience it was and he's made friends for life.

How have you been preparing for your ocean adventure?
Gym, gym, gym..... BIG lesson I learnt from earlier training was that fitness is really important. This isn’t a jolly jape cruise across the Med where you get to play quoits and drink cocktails. It's tough work, both mentally and physically. Be prepared or be ready to ache for weeks...

What do your friends and family think about you taking part?
"'re doing what? You must be mad!"... That’s the general comment I get. My family are extremely supportive and have even stopped staring at me with mouth open and a nervous twitch.

Hey, it’s only 4,900 nautical miles... with no "Simpsons" or "Test Match Special" - WHAT? Is it too late to resign?...Joke!

The race will set off from New York on Monday 20 June for the start of the Homecoming leg. Entertainment gets underway at 0945am local time with the official departure ceremony and crews taking to their yachts. Watch the fleet parade of sail past the iconic New York city skyline and Lady Liberty at 11:15.

Want to race the world’s oceans? We are now recruiting for the 2017-18 Race. To apply click here.

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