Double Act: Family Connections
09 July 2020
The Clipper Race forges incredible bonds between complete strangers from all different walks of life and from all around the world. But sometimes the bond is already there before the race begins.
In the current race edition, thirteen double acts are participating, a growing trend. They represent ten different nations and combinations of parents and children, couples and partners, competing on a single leg, combining several or completing the full circumnavigation. Over eleven months, husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters will share an experience of a lifetime, including Melanie and Jasmine Morris.
There were two main reasons why Melanie and Jasmine from Perthshire, Scotland, decided this was the challenge for them. Firstly, they both liked the idea of celebrating major milestone birthdays at sea - Melanie turned 60 in March, 2020, and Jasmine 30 in February. But most importantly, the pair wanted to celebrate that they could still take on an adventure like the Clipper Race together.
Melanie and Jasmine Morris in the Whitsundays
Jasmine explains: “My mum has had breast cancer twice. I was eight years old when she got diagnosed the first time and we almost lost her.
“That she is able to do this, she will be 60 years old, she’s a single mum, got through breast cancer both times and fought hard to be here for me and my brother - I’m just so proud of her.”
The feeling is mutual, with Jasmine’s mother Melanie adding: “I’m so proud of Jasmine as well because it hasn’t been easy for her with all the situations that have been going on and I just think it is an amazing thing.
“We always underestimate our capabilities. My experience is that people think they cannot do things but for me, I believe that you can. Even if you have difficulties in life, sometimes I think by setting yourself a challenge, to really do something that your heart desires, everything is possible.
“This is a celebration of being 30 and 60 years old respectively, and surviving breast cancer twice over; it’s just saying live your life.”
The chance to experience adventure together was also the reason why 52 year old Ian Griffiths, a consultant engineer who lives in Bristol, decided to take on the race with 18 year old daughter Iona.
Ian and Iona, raced for the same team but on different legs. Ian raced first, embarking on Leg 3 from Cape Town to Fremantle. Then the Clipper Race baton was passed to Iona who took part in Leg 5, from the Whitsundays to Sanya.
Ian and Iona Griffiths handing over the baton
Ian explains: “I was looking for a way to rack up some nautical miles. I saw the ad on the London tube so I suggested to Iona that we go to an open day in Liverpool to find out more.
“Knowing how capable and 'up-for-it' Iona is (she’s very courageous), it seemed like the perfect fit to expand both of our horizons, go outside our comfort zones and create some memories together in the process.
In addition to the thirteen couples on the race, Keith Baker will be completing his family relay. Keith will be racing some 20,000 nautical miles in Legs 1, 2, 3, and 8, taking over from daughter Fran who went from Liverpool to Punta del Este, Uruguay, in the 2017-18 edition of the game.
The Baker family in Liverpool during the 2017-18 edition
Keith, a 62 year old Company Director from Essex, UK, says: “Watching Fran have this awesome experience made me reflect so I retired early to do all of those things I always said I'd do and probably wouldn’t ’when I retire'. The first thing on the agenda was to follow in my daughters wake and get on the Clipper Race. Every experience I've had relating to the Clipper Race has been an absolute blast.”
His daughter Fran, a 30 year old Business and Operations manager, adds: “Being part of the Clipper Race is hands down the best thing I have ever done in my life.
“Fortunately for me, I also get to see my Dad enjoy the amazing Clipper Race experience in his retirement, something I know he will love and excel at as he is extremely driven and hardworking - a 110% kind of guy. I am so proud of the adventurer he is and very grateful that this is a shared experience we will always have.”
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Keith celebrating Qingdao's first place into Cape Town