Meet the Clipper 2017-18 Race Crew: Mike and David Shoulder

25 April 2018

NAME: David Shoulder and Mike Shoulder

AGE: 64 and 58

OCCUPATION: Semi Retired Business Owner and Electrical Engineer


LEGS: The Mighty Pacific Ocean Leg 6

TEAM: Dare To Lead and Liverpool 2018

For British brothers David and Mike Shoulder, the 5,600 nautical mile Clipper Race marathon across the North Pacific from Qingdao to Seattle has been the pinnacle of their adventures together. It certainly wasn’t easy, it wasn’t even always fun, but the pair both from Exeter and David now living on the Isle of Wight, will treasure the experience of completing the ‘Big One’ for the rest of their lives.

IMAGE: Mike and his Liverpool 2018 team in the North Pacific.

58-year-old Mike, who’s life outside the race involves treating ballast water on ships to prevent pollution, jokes the decision to take part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race was down to 64-year-old David’s impatience, saying: “My plan was to do round the world when I retire, but I’m a way off retiring. David is a bit older than me and he decided he wanted to do the Clipper Race but he couldn’t really wait for me to retire.”

In typical brotherly fashion, David counters: “To be honest that’s not entirely my recollection. The decision to do the race was made whilst were on holiday with our other brother in South Africa. We had done a bit of trekking and we were looking for something else to do and the Clipper Race was in the news.

“I think it’s fair to say Mike and I were frustrated sailors and this was an opportunity to really get stuck in. We focused on the Pacific right from the beginning.”

IMAGE: David arriving in Seattle after North Pacific Leg. © Jean-Marcus

That attitude of getting stuck in came in handy for the brothers during the race across the North Pacific. The pair weathered hurricane force winds and waves over 14 metres for almost a month, an experience David describes as “very testing” and “not always pleasurable”.

However, he goes on to add: “It was scary and it was hard but that’s where the challenge is. I feel I have come through it well, still smiling, and I’ll take a lot of positives away.

“Actually, I feel really emotional about it as I’ve got a huge amount out of it and I know Mike has as well. We’ve had the extra benefit of comparing notes and honestly, I feel proud. I don’t know what else you could do that’s comparable. From a standing start to this is pretty amazing.”

IMAGE: The Liverpool 2018 team for the Mighty Pacific Leg 6.

Mike finished in tenth place with his team Liverpool 2018, whilst David’s Dare To Lead crossed the line in seventh place, some 28 days after leaving port in Qingdao. Aside from the competition factor, David believes the pair got more out of the race being on different teams, saying: “It’s nice to have beaten him but at the end of it, the only thing that matters is that everybody is safe and everybody enjoyed it. He does probably owe me a few beers though.”

IMAGE: The Dare To Lead team for the Mighty Pacific Leg 6. © Jean-Marcus

The pair have taken on numerous challenges, both together and apart, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, sailing on tall ships, and hiking to Base Camp at Everest. But of the Clipper Race, Mike says: “What else could be bigger the Clipper Race North Pacific Leg? It was tough, no doubt about that, but the feeling now is that we have done it and together it was emotional.

“My experience was it’s not just the race, the training for the race, the prep week, they were absolutely superb with great people. It really started then and the race was part of that.”

IMAGE: David and his Dare To Lead team in the North Pacific.

David agrees, adding: “This is the biggest thing we have done, without any question.

“I want to say thank you to the Clipper Race because it’s a fantastic opportunity for people to do something that, as far as I know, no one else offers.

“Our families have also got a huge amount out of this. My daughter and sons have been tremendous and enjoyed following the race, as have my granddaughters.”

With the race over and adventure complete, there just remains one task for the Brothers Shoulder – to keep the boat beards or not? A decision still to be made.

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