Meet the Crew: Olympian Bill Lucas

26 October 2015

Today, Tuesday 27 October, marks Crew Changeover day for the Southern Ocean Leg to Albany, Western Australia. This is the day that the new joining crew officially join their teams in preparation to set sail on Saturday.

Over the next five days we will introduce you to some of the crew joining us here in Cape Town, starting today with Olympic rower Bill Lucas - the latest British athlete to step outside their comfort zone to take on the Clipper Race challenge.

Bill, 28, finished fifth in the London 2012 men’s double sculls but had to retire from rowing earlier this year due to injury. Having arrived in Cape Town to meet his crew mates, we caught up with him as he prepares to represent GREAT Britain once again, this time in a rather different watersport, which will take him out of still inland waters and into the Southern Ocean.

Q. Why did the Clipper Race appeal to you? Do you have any previous sailing experience?

A. I missed the challenge of sport once I stopped rowing and wanted to be back in a competitive environment. Secondly I’d love to have the chance to be grinder on a racing team and hopefully this could provide a springboard for that. I have dinghy sailed in my teens.

Q. What made you decide to do Leg 3?

A. I knew the reputation of the Southern Ocean, I thought it would be the biggest challenge and a very physical leg and that really appealed. Plus I still haven’t developed a love for sailing in light wind!

Q. How have you found the training? Has it been what you expected?

A. Training has been really good, I enjoyed the process of remembering things I’d learnt and since forgotten from dinghy sailing as well as all the new info that goes with life on board a 70ft yacht. Living on board will be the most challenging part I think - it’s a long time to be in a watch system compared to the short races I used to train for!

Q. Are there any roles on board that you particularly enjoy?

A. I’ve enjoyed the roles most where I’ve felt in the thick of the action. The bowman role seems to be the most lively so it would be good to be able to get up the sharp end as much as possible. I also really enjoy being on the grinder.

Q. How challenging have you found Clipper Race training compared to rowing?

A. Physically there aren’t many things that compare to rowing so I haven’t come close to the exhaustion that was a part of daily life when I was training. That said life as an elite athlete is a mix of hard training followed by rest and recovery- it’s really tough to rest on board as the boat is always moving. Mentally there are a lot more things to think about in sailing with a lot more factors to consider- that’s been really tough as I spent years making my focus as narrow as possible when I was rowing.

Q. What about your rowing experience has helped you prepare for the Clipper Race?

A. I think the knowledge of how far the body can go if the mind is still willing- tiredness is going to be an inevitable part of this experience but it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in trying to race the boat. I’ve also spent eight years in a team sport and making a team run as best it could was what I most enjoyed about that- hopefully I’ll be able to add something here.

Q. What emotions are you feeling ahead of joining the team for Leg 3?

A. The nearer I get the more nervous I’m getting. The thought of sailing in 60ft waves sounds like great fun up until the point that you actually have to do it! But alongside the nerves I’m definitely looking forward to getting going, I seem to spend most of time glued to the live Race Viewer so I thinks it is about time I got going…

To find out more about the British athletes taking on the Clipper 2015-16 Race click here.

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