Meet the Race 2 crew: Catherine Anderson

04 October 2015

Teams Garmin

As the crew arrive into Rio to start the next race of the series, this time could not have come quicker for one race crew member.

Catherine Anderson has had the challenge of a lifetime before her race experience had even started, faced with the dilemma on whether or not to continue on the race after being diagnosed with breast cancer this June.

In true Clipper Race crew member style, Catherine was determined it would not get in the way of her dream to circumnavigate the globe. Given the go ahead to re-join the race, we catch up with Catherine as she prepares to take on the world’s oceans.

Name: Catherine Anderson
Age: 50
Nationality: British
Occupation: Court Stenographer
Team: Garmin
Signed up for: Leg 2 - 8

Why did you choose the full circumnavigation?
I chose the full circumnavigation because it seemed too good an opportunity to miss and I was worried that if I left the boat without completing every leg, I would regret it. I'm lucky that, being self-employed, I can generously give myself a year off and then go back to my job as a court stenographer after the race, although at the moment "after the race" seems merely a theoretical concept.

Have you ever done anything like this before?I've never before undertaken a challenge of such magnitude but previous physical and mental challenges include running the London Marathon, which I completed in a time of three hours and 35 minutes, and doing a parachute jump for charity, which involved jumping backwards out of a light aircraft - and, growing up in the era of Interrail, I'd never even been in an aeroplane in my life before. After the jump I used to boast that I'd taken off in a plane but never landed in one.

What has been the most challenging part of your race experience so far?There is such a massive amount to learn. The training has been great but so much to assimilate and it needs to become second nature!

Of course, just getting on the race has become a challenge for me during the last few months!

What has been the highlight of your race experience so far?
To date, I think the time I have felt most elated was on completing my Level 1 training. We had all come a long way and negotiated a very steep learning curve in a short space of time. It was also my first experience sailing a yacht rather than a dinghy, so I was quite bowled over by the magnificence and power of a Clipper Race boat under full sail.

What advice would you give to someone preparing for the race?
Study the training manual and be familiar with all the procedures (and the knots) so that you're ready to react promptly in the race situation. Despite sailing thousands of miles across vast oceans, in the 2013-14 edition of the race it sometimes came down to seconds at the race finish.

What do your family and friends think about you doing the race?
When I first signed up for the race, my father apparently said words to the effect, "Well, she's done daft things before and always come back, so I suppose she will this time." So I think generally everyone thinks I'm quite mad but at the same time they are very excited for me. Many people are already avid followers of the Race Viewer even though I'm yet to join my crew. All my family and friends have been extremely supportive, especially my partner, Chris, who will be flying out to meet me in Cape Town, Sydney, Seattle, New York and Derry-Londonderry.

What are you most looking forward to when you arrive in Rio to join your race?
This is an easy question. No doubt Rio is a spectacular location but I'm most looking forward to re-joining my crew and skipper on board Garmin and congratulating them on their performance across the Atlantic.

What do you think will be the most challenging?
A round the world yacht race involves numerous challenges, so it's hard to pick the most challenging challenge! If I could envisage a particularly testing situation, it would be sailing upwind with the boat heeled over at 45 degrees in a violent storm at subzero or near zero temperatures. Such a circumstance would incorporate a number of challenges in one package. It will be cold, wet and requiring significant physical strength - I'm guessing this situation could well occur in the Southern Ocean or the Pacific.

What do you hope to achieve?
I aim to become a proficient sailor in all aspects, enjoy the most exciting year of my life so far, and I look forward to hopefully making some lifelong friends.

Are you competitive?
Yes, despite myself! I can tell myself it's the taking part that counts and whatever my crew's final position, we will still have circumnavigated the globe and that's a massive achievement in itself, and all that is true, but when it comes down to it, I still want to win. I hope I have the physical and mental stamina to maintain that desire through all the difficult times.

Race 2: The Stormhoek Race to Cape of Storms from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to V&A Waterfront Marina, Cape Town, starts on Wednesday 7 October.

If you would like to join Catherine to race the world’s oceans in the next edition of the race, please get in touch via the apply section of the website.

Photo credit: Paul Grover

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