Future Crew Catch Up – John Charles

14 November 2014

The UK Training Office may be beginning to batten its hatches for winter, but the training season remains in full swing in the sunny summer shores of Sydney, at our Australian Training Centre.

The Australian Training centre, which opened in January 2014 and is managed by 2009-10 circumnavigator Kirsty Whyte and 2009-10 skipper Piers Dudin, offers Level’s 1 to 3 of the four compulsory courses, right through to June 2015. This week we caught up with Sydney resident John Charles on the completion of his Level 2 training to see how he got on.

Name: John Charles
Age: 50
Lives: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Occupation: Retired
Signed up for: Clipper 2015-16, round the world

What led you to sign up for the Clipper Race?
I received an email about the Clipper Race from a friend of ours in December last year and then a few days later my wife Tracey and I were on our boat in Sydney Harbour and came across the Clipper 70 sponsored boat Qingdao sailing near the Opera House which certainly caught my attention. When I got home I went onto the Clipper Race website and that started the ball rolling.

I went to the open day at the (Cruising Yacht Club Australia) CYCA after seeing Qingdao in the harbour and had a good look around the boats and talked to a few of the crew who were obviously having a fantastic time. Seeing how well the boats were made and how professionally the race was being run was the deciding factor for me.

Why did you choose the full circumnavigation?
I think because my family has been involved with the sea for many generations and I grew up with their stories and exploits from around the world. I started fishing off of Portland Bill in the UK in the 1970's and would often see yachts heading out over the horizon and I would imagine myself sailing off around the world one day. When I moved to Sydney Australia in 1990 and saw so many yachts sailing on Sydney's beautiful harbour I just had to get involved. That's when my goal for sailing around the world really started to take shape.

What has been the most challenging so far?
For me reefing the main sail and shaking out the reefs are technical manoeuvres especially in rough weather. It requires the co-ordination between several people working together to make it a smooth and safe operation and is something I would like to focus on more in the next level of training.

Which leg are you most looking forward to and why?From a sailing perspective definitely Leg 3 across the Southern Ocean for the experience of the big seas and the adrenalin rush of surfing down the waves at the helm of a 70 foot maxi with Fleetwood Mac's song Albatross blasting out! But I'm also looking forward to the excitement of the start and finish of the race from the UK and hopefully to sail into Sydney Harbour where I now live.

What advice would you give to anyone waiting to do their Level 2 training?
I have sailed on many boats over the years and each one has been different, so it is important to learn how each boat operates - the Clipper Race boats are no different. Getting involved as much as possible and reading the manuals before the courses is a great help. Also the Clipper Race sails and gear are heavy duty so being physically fit is also really important.

What do your family and friends think about you taking part in the race?
They all know this has been a life-long ambition of mine and are all very excited that I have the opportunity to do this and I'm sure they will be following us around the world via the Clipper Race website. In particular, my wife Tracey is looking forward to her own round the world trip to all the ports all be it via airplanes and nice hotels!

If you are interested in finding out more about our Australian training and events centre please contact [email protected] or call: +61 (0) 2 9363 2020

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