Meet Clipper 2017-18 Race Skipper David Hartshorn

03 April 2017

Looking at his qualifications and experience, many would be surprised to learn sailing is a second career for David Hartshorn.

David, 52, was born and raised in Wales and spent three decades serving in the Police Force. After beginning his career in 1984 as a Constable with the Gwent Constabulary, David retired as a Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police Service in 2014. His distinguished career included serving as the Met Police Public Order Branch Chief of Staff with responsibility for public order, and overseeing the planning and resourcing of major events such as the 2011 Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Despite his many career achievements, becoming a Clipper Race Skipper has been one of David’s proudest moments.

“My immediate reaction to hearing the news was absolutely fantastic!” says David.

“It’s been my goal for a long time. People who know me appreciate just how much this means to be selected, It’s incredible. I was a bit emotional and what was quite nice was that I actually, finally, got cool status from my son, Nick”

The number of personal acclamations David has received is a testament to his dedication to his years in uniform. His honours include a commendation from the Deputy Commissioner Tim Goodwin in 2011, and a personal letter of thanks from the then Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, turned British Prime Minister, for his leadership in the police response to the riots of August 2011.

His police career also gave David the opportunity to be a part of something he describes as his greatest achievement to date. Inspired by the Clipper Race, David founded and was lead Skipper on Operation Fitzroy, a project which gave disadvantaged young people from Inner London Boroughs the chance to experience sailing.

“They would spend five days effectively doing a Competent Crew Course and the next two days racing around the cans on the Solent,” says David.

“To see the transformation and development of communication and social skills, teamwork and individual confidence in the young people was incredibly humbling.”

David first fell in love with sailing in his late teens after sailing a friend’s yacht on weekends while working on a Kibbutz in Israel during his gap year. Since then, he has recorded more than 40,000 nautical miles in his log book and completed nine ocean passages.

David doesn’t just know sailing, he also knows the Clipper Race. A keen follower since the inaugural race in 1996, David began working as a freelance Training Instructor in 2015 and a year later, took part in The Mighty Pacific Leg as a crew member.

“I wanted to know what they were feeling and the little things that made life difficult for them so if I ever had the privilege to skipper a boat I could take that into consideration,” says David.

“I think it’s really important if you are going to lead a group of people you need to actually understand what they are going through.”

This insider knowledge, as well as his sense of humour and strong communication skills, means David is sure to be a big hit with his crew. The passionate Welsh rugby supporter says ultimately, he hopes to foster a happy and unified environment in the upcoming race.

“To give the crew members a positive and unforgettable experience is the aim for sure.

“By taking into consideration individual needs and expectations, I hope to help them overcome any concerns or fears they may have over taking up such an extraordinary life changing challenge.”

And his chances of taking home the win?

“Clearly, it’s a race so podium positions are important. But it’s also making sure that the team are getting what they want as opposed to winning at all costs.”

Five things about David Hartshorn:

Favourite meal at sea: Bean cheese crunchy with a big dollop of chilli (although the after effects can be a little unsocial!).

Three luxuries to take with you on the boat: Never ending jar of Marmite, pillow that never gets wet ,and a power shower with hot water.

The last book you read: Dictator by Robert Harris (not reflective of my own leadership style!).

Biggest pet peeve: Punctuality just pips untidiness.

Most overused emoji: The surprised face or crying with laughter.

To read more about our Skippers, click here.

Want to race the world’s oceans? There are limited berths on board the Clipper 2017-18 Race due to start this summer. To secure your place, apply here.

Apply now