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FORMER George Ward School pupil, Elizabeth Adams, has just embarked on one of the most challenging of all sailing experiences: the Round the World Clipper Race.
She joined the crews of twelve 70-foot clippers which set sail from Liverpool on 20th August, with the first destination Uruguay, nearly 6,000 miles across the Atlantic. This involves navigating the potentially violent storms and heavy seas of the Bay of Biscay, the mental and physical challenge of the Doldrums and about 35 days at sea in cramped conditions and only the most basic amenities. It is not a pleasure cruise.
“On an average day, starting at midnight I could be on “on deck” duty for 4 hours, “under deck” duty for 4 hours, 4 hours with time off, 4 hours on deck again and then 8 hours asleep, though it’s difficult to imagine sleeping in such cramped and noisy conditions,” Elizabeth explained.
They will arrive at Punta del Este in late September.
Elizabeth’s boat is ‘Unicef,’ named after the main charity associated with the race, which raises funds to help children who are in danger around the world. Like many of the 20 crew on the boat, she has no extensive background in sailing, but was determined to undertake what she knew could be a demanding adventure, exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures. Each of the eight legs are completed under racing conditions in constantly changing conditions, so there is little time for relaxation.
The second leg of the race is from Uruguay to Cape Town, 4,000 miles through the infamous South Atlantic, with its Trade Winds and long swells.
Elizabeth added, “We should experience some pretty exciting conditions there, but also see some magnificent wildlife including whales and albatrosses.”
The race continues across the Southern Ocean to Australia, with the possibility of hurricanes and gusting winds of up to 100 knots, and then on to China. The westward legs of the race cross the Pacific to the West coast of America, down through the Panama Canal and up to New York. Finally there is the Atlantic homecoming leg. In all, 46,000 miles in about 11 months.
Elizabeth applied to join the full race three years ago but in the meantime, met her future husband. They were married on 8th July, just a few weeks before she set sail.
Elizabeth said, “Rather than pull out of the whole race, we came to a reasonable compromise. I would only go half-way round the world and we would take a belated honeymoon in the Antipodes.”
Elizabeth has fully funded the cost of taking part in the race herself, but along with most of the other participants, she is keen to raise money for UNICEF. She also hopes to make a contribution towards future costs of wheelchair maintenance and accessories for local Melksham girl Mya, aged 6, whose family and friends have been raising money for a new wheelchair for her.
Anyone wishing to contribute can do so at the following non-profit-making website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LiziSailsToAustralia To find more about the race itself, visit http://clipperroundtheworld.com.