Laura Mark Jenson signed up to Legs 5 and 6 of the Clipper 2023-24 Race and sailed from the Whitsundays, Australia to Seattle, China, on board Perseverance.

The 36-year-old from Copenhagen, Denmark, has a thirst for life. Curious by nature, she “really wants to take in all the life experiences” that she can.

Inspired throughout her life by someone who said to her ‘You don’t want to live your life again, you want to live it right the first time’, in May of 2023, after seeing posts on Instagram, she learnt about the Clipper Race and was gripped by the prospect.

“The racing part of it is what makes it so exciting, you are on a team, there are so many challenges, not just crossing an ocean.” Laura said.

Despite having grown up around boats and being on the water, she only recently decided to learn more about the sport that her family had been involved with for so long. One of her motivations for doing the race is to see more women have the confidence to manage boats for themselves.

She says: “I think sailing has always been a part of my life. My dad is a sailor as well, and so I always had this relationship with the ocean. It can be very therapeutic for me. It evokes the emotion of calm but you still have to focus and you just have to be in the moment as you never know when the wind is going to take you and where it's going to lead you unless you pay attention to it.

“I have always been on the boats, but it’s not really the women on the boats that were making things happen. Then a few years ago I decided I really want to learn this. I want to be that person and also in the future that mother who can inspire her children.

“I think we, as women, should step up for ourselves and say you know what I can be in control of this boat, steer us out of this harbour, I will lead the evolution and trim. I think a lot of women can do more than they think they can do. Sailing is for everyone.”

On the dock in Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, about to embark on Leg 5: The Asia Pacific Leg, Laura reflected on her many reasons for signing up: “You think you know why you are doing the Clipper Race, but I think there are so many more reasons why then you think there are. And it's actually a more personal question than I first thought it was.”

“For me, being a woman in this sport, wanting to inspire more women to be courageous, to be brave, to get on the water, and do brave things - and be a little wild as well. Realising that I was going to be with Ineke [Perseverance Skipper] was really a special moment, and knowing there are so many women on board for my first leg, I think we are 50/50, is something I am really really excited about.

“We don’t have many women my age doing something like this. I am 35 [now 36], and it's a very vulnerable time for a woman because you have to make choices about having a family and stuff like that. I think that is why I am doing it now. I want a family and I don't know who I will be after having one. I don’t know if I will be able to do it then, but I know myself now and know that I am capable of doing this.”

Laura has travelled since a young age. She moved to China to live and work with her sister after leaving high school, explored Australia before returning back to Denmark to study Chinese, followed by biology, and even found the time to train as a hairdresser whilst getting her masters degree. The biologist now teaches biotechnology and chemistry at high school and university, and hopes to inspire young people to follow their heart and not always their head.

Before joining the race in Australia, Laura, as with all Race Crew, had to undergo and pass four levels of training, regardless of previous sailing experience. Whilst it can never fully replicate the weather and endurance of a leg of the race, these four levels aim to produce competent and safe sailors as well as preparing crew for life on board a racing yacht.

On Clipper Race training, Laura reflects: “When you are doing the training, you obviously are thinking about all the sail and safety training but what you don’t realise is that you’re also becoming skilled in building a team from people you don’t know, different ages, different nationalities and different experiences. When you get back home, you realise how much else you learn. I was telling my workplace, I had learned alot about being adaptable and inclusive, having a person you might not normally get along with but you have to find a way to adapt and find a way of getting on so we all have a great experience. “There was a point during training where I was like ‘why am I doing this?’ In the middle of night, on deck, helming, with less people on deck due to seasickness. Feeling lonely, it was so hard, the weather was horrible, but at some point you realise actually this is why I am doing it - to challenge myself. I am really learning a lot about where my boundaries are and what I can do and what I can't.”

Teamwork is such a huge factor of the Clipper Race experience; adapting to living, working and sailing as a team is so important. “I love my team! I have this really great feeling, I’m sure we are going to do great and even if we don’t we are still going to be happy as they are amazing people.” Laura says.

Laura raced on board Perseverance, led by skipper Ineke van der Weijden and AQP (First Mate) Joss Creswell. Whilst on board the team placed, fourth into Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, second into Zhuhai, sixth into Qingdao and fourth, in a photo finish, across the North Pacific to Seattle. Her team currently sits first on the overall leaderboard.

For Laura, success has come in the form of podium positions but also in the achievement of completion. Now at the end of her Clipper Race journey in Seattle, she reflected back on her original goals for the race: “I felt like doing something that I had never done before to challenge myself and be proud of myself. What became evident from my race was that when you are racing, your mind is cleared in a different way and you realise what matters to you and what are your values in life. For the first time ever I got homesick. It was really clear that the life I have built for myself is what matters to me, the people in my life, are really what you miss.”

Has Laura’s story inspired you? Find out more about how you could be taking on the challenge of crossing an ocean in the race of your life.

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