“The biggest thing that I’ve learnt is how to manage people,” says Richard Hewson, winning skipper of Gold Coast Australia in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. “It is up to you to try and manage your crew stimulating and teaching them without the ability to give them any reward or punishment. To learn how to do that and have these management skills gained from the Clipper Race means that I can now go into pretty much any company and manage a very large team,” says the Tasmanian skipper that secured twelve out of 15 wins in the recent edition of the world’s longest yacht race.
The Clipper Race gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to take on the adventure of a lifetime – a circumnavigation. The more than 650 crew members participating in the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race will all look up to their skipper to help them succeed in becoming great sailors.
Any sailing professional interested in becoming a Clipper Race skipper of the brand new fleet of Clipper 70s, designed by Tony Castro and currently being built, has a lot of sailing in store too.
“Unless you can fund the likes of your own 60s-campaign then the chances of sailing around the world and experiencing the Southern Ocean through Asia and the North Pacific and all those places that you very rarely get to go in races. The idea of someone giving you a yacht and a crew to do that is just amazing. There are very limited options out there for people like us,” says Richard Hewson.
“Looking back I say to people that I do my sailing for free, but it’s the crew management, training and psychology that you get paid for. By no means is it easy to deal with 18 amateur sailors on the yacht at any time, some of who have never been on a yacht before, but it’s a massive challenge and if people can see that and can see the dedication you’ve got to give to them. After this, sailing solo or double-handed will be quite easy!”
While people management is a high gain in the job, sailing all the world’s oceans is also a huge learning curve.
“I experienced conditions that I’ve never thought possible. Southern Ocean was all about big waves, massive winds, closer to Antarctica than any other continent with ice bergs to our north and flying downwind trying to win a race. You can’t just leave Sydney or Hobart or Cape Town and get into those conditions unless you are prepared to sail around the Southern Ocean.
“In the North Pacific I saw conditions that I did not think were possible to race through. We had our storm sails up and we were still flying along at 12 knots and the crew was pushing themselves through that stuff.” says Hewson.
The greatest high of being a skipper? “Listening to the shouts of excitement by someone on the helm that before this race has never sailed in their life and they are behind the helm and surfing down a wave at 24 knots. That is unbelievable,” concludes this year’s winning skipper, who has returned to sailing in Europe, while he’s putting his Class 40 campaign together.
It can be you…
Interested skippers need to have the correct level of qualifications, including an MCA approved Ocean Yachtmaster. They need to be excellent sailors who put seamanship and safety first, have a proven track record in sail training and can demonstrate that they are strong team leaders.
If you think you are up for the challenge and have the right characteristics and experience contact Sir Robin by email on firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form.