THANKSGIVING CELEBRATED IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN

29 November 2019

“I’d really enjoy the warmth of a crackling wood fire right now,” Seattle-born crew member Mitchell Sundt exclaimed as he wrote his daily blog, thousands of miles from home. Mitchell is on board the Seattle yacht, currently competing in the Clipper Race from Cape Town to Fremantle, Australia.

Mitchell, a former Software Engineer, is one of 66 Americans who have left regular jobs behind to take part in the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper 2019-20 Round The World Yacht Race. The event is known to be one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet and is unique in that it trains ordinary people to become ocean racers. The American Race Crew hail from Atlanta to Seattle, and Nashville to New York and their hometowns vastly differ to the crew’s current surroundings.

IMAGE: On board GoToBermuda

Whilst the teams battle extreme weather conditions, huge waves that can catch you at a moment's notice and living life at an extreme angle, Thanksgiving did not go unmarked. Typically the time to spend with friends and family, it can be tough for those so far from home, but for these intrepid adventurers, they have made the most of what they have in the middle of nowhere, celebrating in a unique way and feeling grateful for the support they have within their new found ‘family’.

IMAGE: On Board Seattle

On board Qingdao, the team currently in the lead, John (Jody) Shaw from Waterford, Michigan, commented: “We had a raffle for candy as a celebration. We enjoyed the celebratory culture of Qingdao with music blasting in the galley and lots of laughs.”

Crew member, John Hawkins from Seattle, and part of the Seattle team, described the experience of marking the holiday: “Thanksgiving in the Southern Ocean. Let me just say, from our home to yours, may we all be blessed with a warm home, plentiful food, and rich spirits to share with family and friends on this Thanksgiving Day.

“This year's festivities are a bit different indeed, as we've all traded our warm homes, nice crackling fires in the front room, and a snuggly soft bed to crawl into after the fun evening is done, for the Clipper Race ‘Adventure Fun Camp Boat Ride’. The inviting warm fireplace and decorated mantle has been traded for a warm glowing blue stove flame under a lovely chrome tea kettle. The comfy cushy bed with a collection of down pillows has been exchanged for a tiny cot pad on a hammock bunk that never lays flat.”

IMAGE: On board Seattle

He went onto describe how on board, they have created their own versions of the decorations and food enjoyed at home, “We did enjoy a delightfully nostalgic dinner with most all the wonderful flavors of the most favorite American family holiday. And for all that goes along with trimming the turkey dinner, and trimming the decorations on the tree - we are constantly trimming every day.” Trimming the sails is just one of the tasks the crew are experiencing whilst facing Mother Nature.

IMAGE: On board Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

Having left Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday 17 November, teams will have been racing around the clock for approximately 24 days when they make landfall at Fremantle Sailing Club, WA, from Monday 9 December.

To read more about how the crew have enjoyed Thanksgiving along with their many adventures at sea, read their crew blogs here.

For anyone thinking they’d quite like to get away from it all next Thanksgiving, the Clipper Race is currently recruiting for crew for the 2021-22 edition. Register your interest here and take the first step in joining an elite club; more people have climbed Mount Everest than sailed around the world.

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