“Thousands of people along the banks of the river all cheering us on. One of the best days of my life!”

06 September 2014

Following a diagnosis in 2011 that gave Alex Lund, 43, a Marketing Manager for Coca-Cola, an 80% risk of developing breast cancer, she elected to undergo a double mastectomy at the end of 2012. Having noticed the Clipper Race tube advertising, Alex decided to sign up and set herself some post-surgery challenges for when she was fit and healthy again.

In April 2013, Alex ran the London Marathon and in June 2014 she completed Leg 8 as a crew member on board Jamaica Get All Right. As a result of completing these challenges Alex raised £3,893.55 for Breast Cancer Campaign.

The following are Alex’s Leg 8 highlight moments: 

Best moment? 
Seeing land after sailing for almost two and a half weeks. It was early morning when we caught sight of the Northern Ireland coast, I had a huge feeling of satisfaction. I was thinking - I did it - I have played my part in the crew, I have crossed an ocean and I have also enjoyed it! 

I could smell the land. It’s a smell I have never noticed before and yet I knew what it was straight away. Sharon’s mum, dad and boyfriend then took a small boat over to us with a package of home-made scones and various other goodies for us to enjoy as we sailed down the River Foyle. Half way down the river, we saw a lone piper on the banks which made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck! Within a couple of hours we reached Derry and I actually felt like a celebrity! Thousands of people along the banks of the river all cheering us on, totally incredible. One of the best days of my life!

Most challenging moment? 
Sleeping on the high side! I was on one of the high bunks for the latter part of my trip and not only was it tough getting up into my bunk (imagine climbing on a ceiling!) and it was also difficult to trust my own knot tying skills, that my lee cloth was fixed and would not let me down. On the days we were at a steep angle I would hook my legs and arms into the cuddies to make me feel safer (some people had broken ribs falling out of their bunks and I did not fancy this at all!), but I never managed to sleep very well on these occasions.

Most unique moment? 
I had a few days in NYC before leaving and the Clipper Race had set up some fire training for crew wanting to attend. I didn’t know much about it but I thought it would be interesting and a good skill to learn. I had no idea that we were going to the FDNY’s actual training centre, to be dressed up like one of these absolute heroes and to be taught how to put out various fires, including a building and a car. It was such a fantastic day. I almost wanted to sign up for a job!! Their fitness levels are off the scale. Once you have the uniform on and then they add on the gas cylinders and the helmet, you feel stooped with the weight. Then there are occasions when these firefighters have to run up hundreds of stairs in tall buildings, it is unbelievable. We also spent some time looking at their 9/11 memorial and one of the Lieutenants talked about some of his colleagues who had died on that day. 

They also explained a lot of NY firefighters are family – father and sons etc, even when family members have died in service. They are very proud of the service they provide and I felt really humbled to have spent time with them. It was an incredible day and one I will never forget.

Biggest achievement? 
Just completing it all without injury. It had been two and a half years since I signed up and I had been through the training and waited for most of the race to complete before joining it, I was totally up for the challenge when I arrived in NY but I was still nervous about it!

Biggest "why am I doing this" moment? 
I wanted a challenge following some personal health stuff I had been through and the trip ticked every box for me. I had no sailing experience so I did not really know if I would like it. I had a moment when we were very heeled over and it was my time to make a brew for the crew, while we were all sat up on the high side. It was my first week and moving from the high side into the hatch and into the galley felt like the equivalent of climbing/scaling down a wall. I was sat there thinking, how am I going to do this? I was really tired, cold and nervous to even move. However, I took a deep breath and got on with it and of course a warm drink always makes anyone feel better!

Funniest moment? 
I can’t think of a stand out funny moment but there was lots of laughter on the boat, it’s funny that when you are in a confined space with a group of people you don’t know, you seem to get to know them very quickly, and when you are tired but sharing a common goal you start to find the same things funny, which may not be funny ordinarily. For example, one of the crew had some movies on his ipad and I watched a movie called ARGO. If you have seen it you will know the meaning of ARGO. Myself and a couple of crew members found it quite funny to be rude to one another by shouting ARGO when asked to do something by one another. I think you just get a bit crazy when you are in some extreme circumstances.

Craziest moment? 
Getting my hair washed in the sink of the galley after not having showered for two and a half weeks. Jean, one of the crew offered to do this for me and I was thinking, “is it crazy to get my hair washed when the rest of me is so filthy?” However, it was so lovely and it made me feel clean.

Feeling inspired to try the Clipper Race for yourself? 

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