​IchorCoal arrives to emotional welcome from Clipper Race crew and supporters

02 October 2015

At 1245 UTC (0845 local), the final team to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, IchorCoal was welcomed in with applause as waiting crew from all teams and many supporters came out to show their support.

It had been a difficult and emotional journey for the IchorCoal team following the loss of crew member Andrew Ashman in a tragic accident less than a week into the race.

The incident resulted in the team diverting to Portugal where the crew made the unanimous decision to race on in Andrew’s honour. Using this as motivation, IchorCoal made up a 700 nautical mile deficit to overtake back runner, Unicef, in the race.

After being welcomed in by Clipper Race officials, supporters and his fellow Skippers, IchorCoal Skipper Darren Ladd explained his team’s excellent progress once they regained racing: “We conned ourselves that we weren’t really that racey to start with and at the beginning we found ourselves in last place and we all looked at each other and thought ‘nobody wants to be last’. We went from a team who just wanted to get here, to being a team that really wanted to do well. Our whole emphasis changed.

“Our main aim was to catch up with the rest of the fleet and we just about managed to do that with a day to go, so it couldn’t have been timed any better. We are all very excited to be here. It was a long old leg and we are all very relieved to be here.”

On the emotional journey the crew has been on, Darren adds: “The crew is really good. We are a strong team and much stronger because of what happened with Andrew. We have built and built on that really. We have daily meetings and there is a lot of talking and soul searching. We’ve all had our moments but I think that’s what has really brought us together and as a race team now we are right on it.

“We are all dealing with it. Some are more emotional than others, some are hiding it more than others. We have had a lot of support from the Clipper Race Office and we massively feel that the best way to deal with this is amongst ourselves as we went through it and we have been doing that on a daily basis. We have been talking about it every day and some of the crew have backgrounds in counselling and they have come forward. Obviously at times like this when you come ashore there are all those extra emotions and it all bubbles to the surface again. It’s still early days but we are coping well.”

When the Race 1 course ended, IchorCoal was in eleventh place, but this position is expected to be improved once the Race Office has applied official redress of 81 hours 11 minutes.

Round the world crew member Ian Kamcke explained the crew’s relief in finally making it to Rio: “We are all so happy to be here. It’s been a very long journey, in more ways than one but we had incredible team spirit on board which got us through.

“What happened with Andy was a terrible shock and it affected us all, but he gave us a real focus for who we were doing it all for and we pulled together tighter and stronger than ever because if it. We are very proud of what we have achieved in this race and know Andy would have been proud of us too.

“It was really amazing to see so many of the other Clipper Race teams and supporters come out today to welcome us in. We have felt incredible support from the whole Clipper Race family the whole time so it is great to finally be reunited with them, and now think about moving forward with the rest of the journey that still lies ahead.”

The IchorCoal crew also includes eight ambassadors for the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation in South Africa. For the second consecutive time the foundation has selected young adults from challenging backgrounds across South Africa to compete in the Clipper Race, with the aim they will increase their skillset and grow in confidence, bringing a new level of self-belief and determination to succeed home with them after the race.

Zanele Mweni, an 18-year-old from Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal, the ambassador on the first leg from London to Rio de Janeiro, had never even seen the sea before starting her race training. Now she has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and the Equator.

On completing her race today, Zanele says: “I know now that everything is possible, I have learnt to sail and there is no such thing as men and women doing separate jobs. Everyone works as a team and has to learn all the elements of sailing. We have all learnt new skills. Everyone here is from different cultures and ages and we all have to work together as a team. You start to think differently and this race is going to change the way I think with the experience of interacting with people outside of my community.

“After the race I hope to become a doctor and then I have a goal to help change my community. I would like to organise nutritional units to educate people in planting and gardening to grow food and monitor families with children from birth to six years and teach their mothers how to feed them and give them regular check-ups. It’s a big problem in my community. I have done research about children born HIV positive and there are ways to prevent that and I want to work towards reducing it in my community too.”

In this race the Sapinda Rainbow ambassadors are raising awareness and funds for NDLOVU, an HIV/Aids R&D centre in rural South Africa. The next ambassador to join the race is Rveida Lungelo Mthethwa, 19, who is also from Mtubatuba, Kwazulu-Natal. She will meet the team tomorrow at crew changeover day.

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