Meet the Crew - Paul Wrightson

27 November 2015

Today, Leg 3 crew members hand over the baton to the Leg 4 crew joining their teams to take part in the All-Australian Leg which includes the race from Albany to Sydney, the classic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, and then up to the stunning Whitsundays.

Joining his team today in Albany, Western Australia is Paul Wrightson, from New South Wales who first heard about the race eight years ago. A former sailor who is keen to get back out on the water, we caught up with Paul to see how he feels as he counts down to the start of his adventure next week.

Name: Paul Wrightson
Age: 47
Nationality: Australian
Occupation: Chef
Team: PSP Logistics
Signed up for: Legs 4 and 8

What led you to sign up for the Clipper Race?
My amazing, wonderful, loving and understanding wife firstly. I introduced my wife Erin to the Clipper Race maybe eight years ago and we thought we’d both do it together on different yachts. Realizing the commitment and expense at the time we left the adventure in the ‘too hard’ basket. However, I grew up sailing. I learnt from my father as a young teenager and I'd always dreamt about sailing the oceans of the world.

Last year after receiving a flash email from Clipper Race HQ about the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race being a part of Leg 4, Erin said to me, “YOU HAVE TO DO IT OR YOU’LL REGRET IT LATER!” So my journey started with applying and then committing to Leg 4 and also Leg 8.

Why did you choose to do Leg 4 and 8?
Leg 4 for me, holds a lot of dreams and experiences from sailing the Southern Ocean, being part of the spectacular race start of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, racing up the east coast of Australia and sharing this amazing coast line with fellow crew members.

Leg 8 for me is the glory leg, which is the icing on the cake, crossing the Atlantic from New York to England is the challenge I’m looking forward to. When the race comes to an end in London my wife Erin will be there to cheer and greet me with our second bub, probably about 12 weeks old.

How was your race training?
The training levels 1, 2 and 3 back to back in Sydney is where I received my first taste of what’s to come.

On Level 1 it was dive in, grab the bull by the horns and run with it! There was lots of sail changes, evolutions and a lot of discussions on safety and emergency procedures.

Level 2 and 3 followed on smoothly and I gained a lot of confidence on the helm and all other responsibilities on board the Clipper 70 yachts.

For Level 4 I flew to London and made my way to Gosport where I met my Skipper Max Stunell and other crew members. This helped bring the whole experience that next step closer to reality. Level 4 was just a lot of fun racing across the Channel to France and back against the rest of the Clipper Race fleet.

As a Chef, what would you say has been the best meal on board so far during your training?
On our fourth day of tough racing across the Channel, we heard a painful croak from galley between heaves, saying forlornly, “There will no dinner tonight…” I was on the helm and with a glance and a nod from Skipper Max I said, “I’ll go and prepare the last supper.” A welcome pot of Spaghetti Bolognese emerged with expressions of delight to be seen on all faces.

I’m sure on Leg 4 there will be some more amazing highlights from the galley to be shared.

What are you most looking forward too?
I’m looking forward to the physical and the mental challenges that the Clipper Race will provide but most of all the complete experience (including surfing the massive swells!) which will be hard to beat or really understand unless you’ve done it yourself.

What do you think will be the most challenging?
All of the above! From enjoying the “privilege” of sleeping, as Skipper Max calls it, when the yacht is crashing through large swells and booming each time between the peaks; cooking in the galley on a 45 degree angle with 30 knots of wind and 5 metre swell; being at the helm and hanging on for the ride of your life with all sails up; putting my gear to the test to stay as dry and warm as possible; and attempting to catch fish on a 80lb hand line while racing between 8 and 12 knots.

What do your friends and family think about you taking part?
My family are all very supportive and excited for me to chase my dreams and enjoy the race of my life.

A lot friends think I’m crazy and would never dream of crossing the oceans of the world unless in an airplane! This race is not for everyone or the faint hearted but for people who want to challenge themselves in more ways and more than anything they’ve ever done before.

Want to race the world’s oceans? We are now recruiting for the 2017-18 Race. To apply click here.

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