Future Crew Catch Up – Meet Suzanne Tomkinson

27 February 2015

Why has Australian-based crew member Suzanne Tomkinson been nicknamed the ‘Duracell Bunny’?

In this week’s Future Crew Friday we catch up with Suzanne, who moved from the UK to Brisbane, Australia three years ago. An aspiring sailor and aware of the race, Suzanne was looking for an experience to enhance her sailing skills and provide a goal. A chance comment to a friend whose wife had taken part in the 2011-12 edition of the race led to her signing up.

Name: Suzanne Tomkinson
Age: 54
Nationality: British
Occupation: Retired Accountant
Signed up for: Clipper 2015-16 Race, Leg 7 and 8

What led you to sign up for the Clipper Race?
When the Clipper Race presented itself to me it gave me goosebumps and the idea lodged itself in my head pretty determinedly. The more I looked into it the more boxes it ticked for me. Overall it was an overwhelming gut instinct, a cheeky smile and mischievous buzz, and a persistent little voice in my head saying, “Go on, do it, you know you want to!”

What made you sign up for Legs 7 and 8?
I would have loved to have signed up for the full round the world experience but I decided on Legs 7 and 8 primarily for financial reasons but also because I didn’t feel comfortable to be away from my family for almost a full year.

What has been the highlight of your Clipper Race experience so far?
I love the fact that the Clipper Race experience starts from the day you sign up. It’s very motivating and there is plenty to do in the build up to your training and ultimately the race. My highlight so far has been my Level 1 training. It was wonderful to finally get on one of the boats, meet fellow ‘Clipperites’ and start the journey for real. Specific highlights within the training were getting behind the helm. The boat feels lovely, majestic even, and similarly lying in my forward bunk during the night sail and listening to the rush and slap of the water against the hull as the boat powered her way through the offshore Sydney swell.

What have you found the most challenging so far?
Without a doubt for me it was the challenge of coping with kit organisation and deployment (it might be a girl thing! ) Having my contact lenses, reading glasses, sunglasses, hat, gloves, ties for both, sun blocks, lip salves, wash kit, clothing, wet-weather gear, life-jacket and harness all where I could get them with ease and speed when you are already on deck or coming back on watch with a tight timescale to kit up and present yourself for action. In the warm weather with no jacket I found a neat little trick of putting my glasses lens cloth and lip salve down the front of my bra! Retrieving them probably caused a few funny looks from fellow crew! I think I did ok with it all but it was a big focus for me to keep a tag on everything without losing efficiency or being late. I feel it will be a developing skill down the track like the sailing itself.

What advice would you give to someone preparing for their Level 1 training?
Whatever your level of fitness start as early as you can before your training to increase strength, stamina and agility. Technique is important but the reality is that (again especially for girls who are smaller and lighter than the majority of the male crew), it is a physically demanding environment. The higher your levels of fitness the greater you will be able to participate, contribute to the team and find it rewarding.

What do your family and friends think about you doing the race?
I think their initial reaction was shock then very quickly respect, support and vicarious anticipation. They are keenly interested to follow my story as it develops. They can see and appreciate how the personal adventure and challenge is providing me with a boosted energy and purpose. I was given the name ‘Duracell Bunny’ on the training - my keenness perhaps somewhat obvious!

The 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Race starts on Sunday, August 30, 2015 and is now 85 per cent full with limited availability left on legs and round the world places.

Crew members can complete Levels 1 to 3 of the four compulsory courses at our Sydney base right through to June 2015, or all levels at our UK training centre in Gosport, Hampshire.

Next month, come and visit us in New Zealand to meet the team and find out more. View the dates and reserve your place here. Alternatively, contact us here.

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