Meet the Clipper 2019-20 Race AQPs: Ryan Barkey

05 February 2020

Name: Ryan Barkey

Age: 27

Occupation: AQP/First Mate on Punta del Este.

Nationality: Canadian

Hometown: Airlie Beach

The Clipper Race certainly isn’t Ryan Barkey’s first rodeo when it comes to sailing. Having racked up over 30,000 nautical miles since he acquired his Yachtmaster Licence in South Africa, he has worked for over six years in the sailing industry.

He is currently halfway through the Clipper Race working as an AQP on Punta del Este. Having just left the golden shores of the Whitsundays (which is where Ryan calls home after most recently been based in Airlie Beach, Australia) Ryan has just sailed into the Northern Hemisphere where he has been working with Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez - Skipper of Punta Del Este where they have been collaborating on devising the best possible strategy to help garner as many points as possible.Ryan has taken time out from his ‘normal’ day job as Skipper and Engineer for ex-maxi racing yacht; British Defender, to take part in the Clipper Race. He has created so many unforgettable moments so far, but his most memorable moment at sea to date was his first ocean crossing from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town. His dream was to race from South Africa to Australia and experience the Roaring Forties which he has subsequently done. He says:

“I love sailing - all the challenges that come with this race make the experience even more enjoyable, however it is the social experiment side of the race that is the trickiest part.”

What is his personal highlight of the Clipper Race so far? He says:

“Reaching my Personal Best and I think the Clipper 2019-20 Race speed record so far which was 32.2 knots which we got on the race coming into Cape Town. I got up on the top of the wave, with whitewater coming over the side - I was pretty much blind for about four waves just steering off the feel of the boat then looked at the gauges afterwards and saw the 32.2 so that was pretty cool.”

He continues:“The Southern Ocean has always been a goal of mine, and it was probably my favourite part of the race that we have done so far in terms of the challenges that the ocean presented. Also, the wildlife and just the aura really of coming into the ocean that demands your respect all the way through.”Clearly there have been some standout and some tough moments for Ryan, but what has been the biggest challenge so far? He says:

“Being impartial, there are always a few issues that arise on board and trying to find an answer that appeals to everyone, especially being one step up in command can be tricky. People always look to you to help solve all the issues and it’s tough pleasing everyone, but so far I think we have done a good job in keeping a happy crew.”

Clearly Ryan’s relationship with Skipper Jeronimo is pivotal to the overall dynamic of the crew. He says: “The relationship that I have with my Skipper Jeronimo is fantastic. From the get go, we hit it off straight away. We complement each other - strengths and weaknesses. We work very well together and try to split the load 50-50 as much as possible.”He continues:“We try and bounce of each other and see what works, what doesn’t - two brains are better than one, that’s what we say.”What’s important to Ryan when taking part in the race? Simply, he wants everyone to have a great race. He says:

“I just want to have a good race, everybody to be happy on board and to have a good finish.”

So, how did Ryan end up joining the Clipper Race? He had been working in Airlie Beach after a chance meeting with a man in Thailand who recommended the Whitsundays as a great place to live and work. He says:

“Two years ago when the Clipper Race came to the Whitsundays was the first time I had personally come in contact with the race, I had heard of it before. However, I didn’t really register it as a possibility for my future at the time. It was lovely to see the boats come in and leave and see the excitement around the race. As I was leaving Airlie Beach, looking for the next step in my career, one of the other mates on board, Hugo Picard, happened to get in contact and one thing led to the next and I am very happy to be standing here and coming back in with the fleet as part of the Australian leg this time.”What’s it like to sail into? your home turf in the beautiful Whitsundays? Ryan reveals:

“Sailing in the Whitsundays is absolutely beautiful, it’s like sailing through a postcard. There can be some tricky weather every now and then. There can be some tricky squalls which can catch you out for sure. However, I was feeling quite confident as I know the coast quite well, so I am hoping that provided us with an advantage in this coming race.”

In his spare time, Ryan enjoys going off the beaten path and exploring places few people have gone before. Whether it be freediving, spearfishing, snowboarding, hockey, downhill biking, or rock climbing - pretty much any extreme outdoor sporting activity is on his list. If you hanker after some high-octane action like Ryan, why not consider joining the Clipper 2021-22 Race?

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