Meet the Crew – Kristof Bostoen

24 March 2016

A lover of sailing long distances, crew member Kristof Bostoen is returning to the high seas once more with his team to experience the world’s largest and deepest ocean.

Ever since leaving humanitarian aid and focus on development work, Kristof says his day to day challenges have become intellectual rather than physical. Spending most of his days at a keyboard, he says he misses testing his physical limits and is looking forward to experiencing pushing a sailing boat with a group of people for days on end, seeing nothing but water.

Name: Kristof Bostoen
Age: 50
Profession: Principal
Nationality: Belgian
Team: LMAX Exchange
Signed up for: Leg 1 and 6

How did you hear about the Clipper Race and what led you to sign up?
After my studies I had the intention of buying a boat and sailing around the world but I got married instead and my family prefers the day sailing trips over the longer trips I enjoy. My wife noticed the race adverts in the London underground and urged me to revive the old dream. We both agreed that a full year of circumnavigation was not an option for this edition. So a few days after that I had my interview and signed up to ensure a place on Leg 1.

Why did you choose Leg 6?
Initially I had chosen Leg 1 as I was born in Rio and we would arrive into the city around my 50th birthday. Once my wife saw the effort and preparation involved she urged me to do a second leg. I wanted to do a leg on which we surfed the boat down big waves. Given that all my holidays for 2015 were spent on my first race it needed to be a leg in 2016, hence Leg 6. The additional bonus after crossing the Equator in Leg 1 is I will cross the International Date Line on Leg 6.

What are you most looking forward too?
To see the team again, as the team spirit was great and although many people changed on each leg there is a core of people doing the circumnavigation. It’s nice be part of a team and follow them around the world. Even my extended family who hardly turn their head for a sail boat are questioning me about my skipper Olivier’s tactics!

I also flew in early to see the team arrive as I knew from earlier races the arrival and departure from Qingdao is one of the more spectacular during the race.

What do you think will be the most challenging?
The combination of cold and humidity. On this race the portholes will be closed most of the time which will reduce the ventilation below deck. The weather in the North Pacific can be challenging as well. Food for this race will come from China and might not be to all people’s taste. All that can influence the mood on board while there is still a race to sail. It might become a challenging mix and certainly not your average day in the office!

How do you think this Leg will compare to Leg 1?
In Leg 1 we were sailing to the sun and we knew that the area around the Equator can be calm. Here we go to the polar circle and we know it can be rough.

The Pacific was named after its southern part, I am not sure they would have called it the same if they would have been sailing its northern part.

Is there anything you have learnt from Leg 1 that you will take with you into Leg 6?
Travel light, there is very little you need when the focus is sailing; and take something that can lift the spirits. Both are covered on this trip! If you are the racing kind, be prepared to trim to the bitter end as it is the only way to go fast.

Having experience in challenging environments at work, how have you been preparing for the North Pacific?
I read up on sail trim and have tested out the gear I was planning to take. For the sail trim there is surprisingly a lot to pay attention to about a piece of cloth like a kite that is only attached with three points to the boat. Looking weeks on end to sails in different wind conditions obviously helps understanding what the training books mean. Before experiencing this, some of the explanations in books can seem quite abstract.

What do you hope to achieve from the experience?
For myself I hope for a safe passage in which I can contribute in keeping our team up the rankings. Knowing I crossed the North Pacific without a motor certainly will feel like an achievement. Meeting new people and having that feeling to be seriously alive with no land and other boats in sight. It is an incredible feeling that in the space age one can cover large parts of the globe just using the wind.

What do your friends and family think about you taking part?
They are proud, worried and excited all at once but glued to the Race Viewer even when I'm not on the boat. While on land I'm often informed by family or friends of changes in boat positions and told which crew blog is worth a read. It is quite impressive how many people closely follow the race.

If you would like to join Kristof and race the world’s oceans, we are now recruiting for the 2017-18 and 2019-20 races. To apply click here.

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