When Qingdao crew member Helen Hancorn saw the Clipper Race on the news last summer and learnt that anyone could take part, she went online and applied straight away.
Now, having completed four levels of compulsory race training, Helen has joined her team in Airlie Beach to race to Da Nang in Vietnam for the first time in the race's history.
Losing her granddaughter to meningitis when she was only a year old, Helen is fundraising for the Official Race Charity, Unicef, to show her support and help keep children safe as part of her race campaign.
Here is Helen’s race story so far.
Occupation: Managing Director
Signed up for: Legs 5 and 8
made you decide to sign up to the Clipper Race?
I love being on the sea. I have been a keen water-skier for 20 years then got into sailing 10 years ago but my previous sailing experience has been pottering around the Mediterranean drinking gin and tonic as I went, never racing! Although I have gone on to take my day skipper and yacht master’s courses.
Gaining more sailing experience from taking part in the race will be so valuable and being part of the race is so exciting.
did you chose Legs 5 and 8?
I have never been to Australia or China and always wanted to go and to spend New Year in Sydney. Then the idea of crossing the Equator and visiting Vietnam is amazing, ending up in China and again spending some time in China before flying home.
As for Leg 8, I love New York and to be in the homecoming races will be such a buzz. Hopefully as the winning team!
has been the most challenging so far?
I thought I was pretty strong and fit but couldn’t believe the amount of hard work involved when setting the sails up.
are you most looking forward to on the race?
I have met so many wonderful people, made so many new friends and I am part of an amazing team. I am looking forward to being on the water, going fast and the buzz of racing.
do you hope to achieve?
To be part of the winning team. As you can guess I am very competitive! Although just taking part in the race is an amazing, and gaining lots of experience to make me a better sailor.
advice would you give to someone preparing for the Clipper Race?
Do it! It’s amazing, I have learnt so much. Also go with an open mind, you will meet many different characters and personalities on the boat but the most important thing is helping each other and working as a team.
do your family and friends think about you doing the race?
They are proud of me and think it’s an amazing opportunity and a real achievement but are going to miss me and I will miss them. I have four children and two grandchildren. Luckily I am sharing the experience with my husband.
did you decide to fundraise for Unicef as part of your race experience?
Sadly my granddaughter Mariah died when she was 13 months old in 2009 due to meningitis. Since her death I have become an ambassador for meningitis, raising awareness and funds. When I heard Unicef was the race’s official charity I contacted them to see if they are involved in vaccine programmes, which they are, including meningitis. So as a children’s charity I decided to raise funds for them.
can people get involved and support you?
I have set up a justgiving page which I am emailing out to friends and work colleagues and we have had great support from our local press.
Click here to show your support on Helen’s JustGiving page.
Fancy being on the start line for the next edition of the race? We are now recruiting for the 2017-18 and 2019-20 race editions – no experience necessary! To discover more, click here.Join The Race