Kia ora and happy Waitangi Day!
The Clipper Race has always been warmly embraced by New Zealanders, and after seeing race after race, how well our many Kiwi crew handle one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, the feeling is mutual.
There has only been one New Zealand stopover to date, but it certainly was one to remember. In order to give the Clipper Race crew an extra taste of the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean, the race route included the Land of the Long White Cloud for the first time in the 2011-12 edition of the race.
The ten stripped down 68-foot ocean yachts raced 3,600 nautical miles from Geraldton, Western Australia, to Tauranga, North Island.
The warm welcome into the lively waters of New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty was only matched by the goodbye. Before the Clipper Race fleet left on a 1,370 nautical mile race to the Gold Coast, on the east coast of Australia, there was a traditional Maori kapa haka farewell in Tauranga Bridge Marina.
Eight Kiwis took part in the 2011-12 edition of the race, but with over half a year to go, the New Zealand contingent for the Clipper 2017-18 Race is already at ten, including four who are doing the whole circumnavigation.
Greg Glover, a 55-year-old retired dairy farmer from Hamilton, is one who will be spending eleven months taking on Mother Nature and all she has to offer at sea.
“It seemed like the whole circumnavigation was the ultimate achievement,” says Greg.
“It just so happened that this year it particularly lined up with personal circumstances, and it seemed like a good time to take the opportunity. And it also represents a huge achievement as there are very few people who have been able to sail around the world.”
Greg is right about that. More people have still climbed Mount Everest than sailed around the world. And while Greg will see parts of the world few ever get to experience, he expects his own backyard to be the most challenging.
“Excited and apprehensive at the same time when I think about the Southern Ocean Leg.
“After sailing from Cape Two to Sydney on a 40,000 tonne container ship years ago, it will be challenging to do it on a 30-tonne sailing boat.
“Having lived in the Southern Hemisphere all my life I am aware of the reputation of the Southern Ocean and the challenges that it can throw.”
With challenges like this in mind, Greg didn’t decide to take on the world’s most unique ocean adventure alone; wife Gerry and his two daughters were key in the decision process.
“They have given their total support to my signing up.”
“[One of the biggest challenges] will be being away from family and friends for the twelve months, though some are planning on being at various parts along the trip.”
Like 40 per cent of the Clipper Race crew, Greg has limited sailing experience. He is however, on the road to becoming an ocean racer, after completing his Level 1 training at the Clipper Race base in Sydney late last year.
“At first I was a little apprehensive but found our instructors Wayne and Will really built our confidence and made the whole of Level 1 thoroughly enjoyable whilst testing us all the way.
“I came away and found myself looking forward with real enthusiasm to the next levels of training and thinking more about the year ahead. I think it was about just getting on a boat and starting the training that I found helped answer some of the questions I had in my head about what I was undertaking.”
Greg will return to Sydney later this month to complete both his Level 2 and 3 training. He knows by undertaking his Clipper Race journey, he is not only following in the footsteps of former New Zealand crew, but also continuing his country’s proud sailing tradition.
“I think that our vast coast line means that we are all exposed to the sea and water activities most of our lives. We are very proud of previous sailors like Sir Peter Blake (two time America’s Cup winner), they have set a great example for others to follow.
“I think it is our small size as a nation that makes us feel more connected to successful athletes like our sailors, this having a flow on effect for others.”
There is still time to join Greg and sign up for the race of your life. There are limited places left for the Clipper 2017-18 Race, both for individual Legs and the whole circumnavigation. To apply, click here.Join The Race