Meet the Clipper 2023-24 Race Crew: Gabriele Vogel

23 December 2022

Nationality: German

Hometown: Munich, Germany

Occupation: ArchitectAge: 61

Legs: 2 and 7

Gabriele Vogel, an architect from Munich, Germany, is looking to build on her sailing knowledge and skills by taking on the adventure of a lifetime. Having tested the waters with offshore sailing in her own boat, Gabriele has now set her sights on a huge goal; to complete two tough and contrasting legs of the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race, Leg 2 and Leg 7.

Image: Gabriele during her Clipper Race training

Leg 2 is a 4000+nm marathon from South America to South Africa and a leg that can throw everything at you - from raging South Atlantic storms to long surfing runs which, together, combine to pose a unique mental and physical challenge.

In contrast, Leg 7, which is made up of two races within the 7200nm route, runs from the West Coast of America down to Panama, transiting the iconic Panama Canal and up to finish on the eastern coast of the USA. It is a huge race, with 38 days (on average) at sea, living life at an angle with the challenge of the heat, possible storms, unpredictable currents and tactical decisions all in the mix.

Image: Gabriele is a lover of adventure and a keen hiker

Outdoor-enthusiast Gabriele is a keen hiker and cross-country skier so no stranger to adventure. As well as ticking off huge hikes such as the Way of St. James from Bilbao to Santiago de Compostela, she spends time in the Alps whenever she can. We caught up with Gabriele following her Level 2 training at Clipper Ventures HQ in Gosport.

Gabriele, how did you hear about the Clipper Race?

I found out about the Clipper Race in December 2020 when a friend of mine at the yacht club made me aware of the race and that it was open to amateurs. Then just before my birthday, I noticed you can apply for the next edition and so I did!

Had you sailed much before signing up for the race?

I love sailing. I have my own boat in Berlin. It’s a Neptun 22 which is 7m in length. Whenever I am in Berlin I try to go sailing. Every time I go out on the water, it’s an adventure because I experience something new.

I have done some offshore sailing, mostly the Baltic Sea or in the Mediterranean. I’ve followed the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe Race and that’s why I have always wanted to experience what it is like to be an ocean racer. Then, when I heard of the Clipper Race I thought ‘this is my chance’.

What started your passion for sailing?

I’ve sailed since I was 15 - I spent holidays in England to improve my English and my parents thought it’d be good for me to do something in the afternoons so they signed me up for a sailing course so that’s where it all started. I then forgot about it until my early fifties, when I started sailing again.

What is your reason for choosing Leg 2 and Leg 7?

I chose Leg 2 because I grew up in South Africa so going from South America to South Africa will be like going home.

Then I chose Leg 7 because I thought it would be fun to go through the Panama Canal and to the East Coast of America. The canal is something not many people get to do, so I think it’ll be absolutely amazing. I think also I’ll have all of the climates and all the temperatures from the bitter cold in the South Atlantic, and then some hot weather around the Americas.

How did you feel when your place was confirmed on the Clipper 2023-24 Race?

The day I found out that I would be competing on the next edition felt like a dream come true! I have always said, in my next life, I will be an ocean racer, but with the Clipper Race I don’t have to wait for my next life- I felt and still feel excited, very lucky and happy.

What have your friends and family said about you signing up?

They said ‘you have to do it, go for it!’ so I have good support.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

Having my training experience in mind - I think the biggest challenge will be mentally preparing for all the wet and damp!

It's a big issue not being able to stay dry. I have plenty of dry bags and I’ve learned to put everything in them. It can be damp and sticky from the salt. I’m not particularly worried about the race - the boats are great and we can handle it.

What most excites you about the Clipper Race?

Racing should be a good mixture of everything - I am competitive - I care enough to want to not come last! I like the challenge of being with people - you learn so much about yourself and others - I think it will be an excellent life experience.

I’m dreaming of being on the boat and in a huge ocean with no land. It’s so huge and unique. There’s no place on earth where you can be so away from everything- and I really love this perspective.

How are you preparing for the Clipper Race and your next level of training?

For the last few years I have focussed on a regular program to keep my mind and body fit- regularly running, cycling, hiking and swimming. I’ve also been doing more reading on sailing, including Team Spirit by Brendan Hall, and I want to learn more about subjects such as weather.

Keen to level up your existing sailing experience like Gabriele? Explore the legs and apply for the life-changing Clipper Race here. There is limited availability remaining for the 2023-24 race edition, or look ahead and enquire about the 2025-26 race edition.

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