Meet the Clipper 2017-18 Race Crew: Tessa Hicks

19 May 2017

NAME: Tessa Hicks

AGE: 59

OCCUPATION: Doctor

NATIONALITY: British

LEGS: Full circumnavigation

TEAM: Team Andy

There’s just one more sleep until Crew Allocation, and it will be a nervous one for almost 700 Clipper Race crew members excitedly awaiting to learn which team they will be in for the fast approaching Clipper 2017-18 Race.

While some who live far away will be joining us via the live online broadcast, more than 400 members of the crew will travel to the Portsmouth Guildhall in the UK to meet their team in person.

Tessa Hicks, from Malborough, Wiltshire, will be one of them.

“We are all so excited about Crew Allocation,” says Tessa.

“We just can’t wait to find out who we are going with what boat and if anyone from training will be with us.”

At 59, Tessa is finally making time for a gap year. But the doctor from Marlborough, Wiltshire, won’t be using the sabbatical as an excuse to slow down, but rather as a chance to join the elite club of circumnavigators.

“I had never even thought about sailing around the world,” says Tessa.

“But as soon as I had I thought wouldn’t that be an absolutely amazing thing to do in your life.

“And I’ll have my 60th birthday in the Southern Ocean. I’m getting close to retirement so it seemed like a great way to kick off my semi-retirement.”

Though she has never sailed before, Tessa is in no way daunted by the challenge of racing 40,000 nautical miles across the world’s oceans. This is most likely due to the fact she is used to pushing herself and achieving the extraordinary.

“I went to medical school in my 40s when my children were all teenagers so I like to be busy and have challenges so why not the Clipper Race?

“If you want to do something badly enough you will find the time to do it and make it work.”

Tessa Hicks during Level 2 Training in Gosport, UK.


For such a life changing decision, Tessa admits she didn’t spend much time thinking about it.

“I’d gone up to London to do some wedding dress shopping with one of my daughters, I’ve got two daughters getting married in the next six, seven weeks, and I saw the poster in the tube and I just said to my daughter, ‘oh that looks interesting’.

“So back home in her flat that evening I looked it up and I logged my application off the next day. So, it was just spur of the moment.”

Tessa recently completed her Level Two training in Gosport, and says it left her feeling a lot more confident.

“It was great and it certainly helped me demystify a lot of things. As somebody who has never sailed before level one was my initiation and it’s quite a steep learning curve.

“Just understanding more of the evolutions and instead of relying on the yellow notes, just starting to think them through so when you realise that you can start thinking, I need to do that and then that and that.”

All three of her children, including the two who she is currently planning the weddings for, are fully behind Tessa as she embarks on this adventure. And she hopes by watching and supporting her, it will inspire them, saying: “I hope one day some of them will do it.”

Tessa Hicks with her Level 2 Training group and Skippers Roy Taylor and Lance Shepherd in Gosport, UK.


With family in both South Africa and Australia, the South Atlantic Leg Two and All Australia Leg Three will be particularly special. But it’s the journey itself Tess is most looking forward to.

“I’m really looking forward to the big waves. Just the idea of bobbing around in these great big oceans is just an amazing idea

“It’s just a huge adventure starting from nothing you know nothing and then you end up going round the world and it’s just such a fantastic opportunity. All I can say is thank Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and the whole Clipper Race organisation for giving mere mortals like us a chance to do something so incredible. We all feel very privileged to have the opportunity to do it.”

Registration for Crew Allocation begins at 0900 on Saturday 20 August at the Portsmouth Guildhall. If you are unable to join us in person, then tune into the live broadcast. The video will be available on the Clipper Race website for 48 hours, and then can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Thinking of taking on the challenge? Don’t be put off by the fact that you will miss Crew Allocation. There are still limited opportunities to sign up for both the entire circumnavigation and individual legs though spaces are going fast. If you think what it takes to face all Mother Nature has to offer out at sea, then click here to apply.

Elliot Brown Watches - Official Time Keeper Until Race Start : Liverpool Map + Race Standings