Meet the 2017-18 Race Crew - Andy Sutherland

31 October 2016

“I live in Johannesburg so I am not really a sailor at all, this is a stepping stone in the right direction,” says 2017-18 race crew member, Andy Sutherland who has done a little sailing as a child and heard about the race when on a night out for dinner.

That evening Andy’s friend mentioned that his cousin was participating in the race and Andy says that the next thing he knew, he was online and had sent off his application form. We caught up with Andy to find out more, stepping off the boat from his Level 2 training at our Race HQ in Gosport, UK.

Name: Andy Sutherland
South African
Signed up for:
The South Atlantic Leg 2

Why did you choose Leg 2?
I signed up for Leg 2 because I have always wanted to sail across the Atlantic. My parents did the Cape to Rio in 1976 and Cape Town is a great city to finish into so hopefully that will be on our race route because my kids can come to watch and be part of my experience too.

What do your family and friends think about you taking part in the race?
They are quite confused! Jo ’Burg isn’t really a sailing city, there is no affiliation to sailing there, when I tell my friends what I am doing they can’t really comprehend it. They are all really excited for me but they don’t really understand it.

Our first child was born in 2003, he was fine when he was born but at eight months old we discovered he had a brain tumour. We ended up on quite an interesting adventure with him and he died just before he was two years old. He was in and out of hospital having a variety of treatments, there was a lot going on in his small life and about a year after he passed I decided to write a book about it called ‘Summer of the Bees’.

I didn’t write it for a specific reason to get published, I just wanted to write it so that the other children we might have would know how lucky there are and how difficult life can be. It was a tough two years. The book ended up getting published in South Africa. It was amazing how many comments and feedback of support I received from people who had read it. I hope it has helped other people that are going through or who have been through a similar situation.

I have three other children aged 7, 9 and 11, so when they are ready they will read it. My children don’t quite comprehend the race but I would like to get them and their school involved in the race somehow. I think it would be fun for the class to track me on the Race Viewer and learn more about sailing and the world’s oceans, weather, wildlife and so on, I hope it will be special for them too to follow me on my adventure.

How did you find your Level 2 training?
I enjoyed it much more than my Level 1 and I am trying to figure out why! I think my expectations of myself on Level 1 were too high, I went in there trying to do everything quickly but you can’t have that attitude, it was also physically tough, you have to keep up your general fitness. It’s all about attitude and fitness. I had a great time on Level 2 and we had a great crew with a variety of weather and I think mentally I knew what to expect more.

What was the highlight of the week?
The second day we went out and sailed the whole night and that was great, we had some fantastic wind conditions which made some of the crew seasick, but for me that’s what it’s all about! I was one of the lucky ones and didn’t get sick.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
I think the hardest part is being in close quarters with everyone. I went to boarding school, was in the army and went to university, so I have always lived in close proximity to people, but it’s such a big thing being on a boat with strangers! I have been thinking quite a lot about it - what is fantastic about the Clipper Race experience is that it’s bringing yourself down to basics again in a very primitive environment – it’s like camping on the sea. It’s a different mind-set and although it’s a challenge I am looking forward to existing in such a basic way.

What will you do to prepare for Level 3?
More time spent on board makes you realise what clothing you need and I will also relax more, take in what I am learning and enjoy it. It is nice to be able to turn your phone off and concentrate on the environment you are in.

What do you hope to achieve from your race experience?
I think it is a unique thing to be able to say you have accomplished, I am not competitive. For me, it’s about being part of the adventure and making the most out of it and the camaraderie on board.

Want to race the world’s oceans? The Clipper 2017-18 Race is now 70 per cent full. If you would like to join Andy contact Crew Recruitment: [email protected] or call +44 (0) 2392 526 000

Join The Race