Ahead of the start of the Southern Ocean Leg 3, we meet crew member Christina Cunningham, who has known about the Clipper Race since before the inaugural event after seeing the first ever newspaper clipping advertising for crew.
She talks about the time being right for her to join the race now, and gives advice for new crew starting to train.
Name: Christina Cunningham
Occupation: Software engineer
Nationality: Irish/ British
Signed up for: The Southern Ocean Leg 3 and The Australia Leg 4
How did you first hear about the race?
When I was at university, my Dad sent me a clipping from the newspaper advertising the search for crew ahead of the first race. I had just come off my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award residential, sailing for two weeks around the Channel Islands, which had been great fun so I guess that’s why my Dad sent it.
But given I was a poor student at that time, I didn’t apply, but have always kept it in the back of my mind. I followed every race and eventually, the time was right for me. You either do it or regret it for the rest of life as life is too short.
How has training gone for you?
The training has been great fun. It’s as big a thing as the actual race. You make friends for life during the training, and have shared experiences. Everyone has to pull together to sort out the issues.
I enjoy racing and sailing as part of a big crew, and the opportunity to helm and crew on a 70 foot ocean racing yacht isn’t something that is easy to come by outside of the Clipper Race.
I first helmed with the spinnaker when it was blowing 30 knots, which was brilliant experience.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Sleeping has been challenging for me as I adjust to the watch system. By Level 4, I got used to it more.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to getting out from behind a desk and doing something more physical for a few months. I’m also looking forward to a simpler way of life at sea, where everything revolves around the boat and the people on board. That might be ensuring that the boat is heading in the right direction at the best possible speed or cooking dinner for 20 people.
What do you think will be the hardest part of the trip?
I think the hardest part of the race will be dealing with the physical and mental challenges that will undoubtedly arise during the race, especially when tiredness sets in. It will be important to find the strength to dig deep and carry on, as well as supporting other team members, for the sake of the boat and the people around.
What advice would you give to someone about to start training?
I’d advise anyone starting to have a sense of humour, and to not be scared before training starts. At times, you will be down or tired or feel overwhelmed with all the learning, but there are always people around to pick you up, then you will do it for them in turn.
If you would like to follow Christina and race the world’s oceans in the next edition of the race, please get in touch via the apply section of the website.Join The Race