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FORMER George Ward School pupil, Elizabeth Adams, has now completed her part in the Round the World Clipper Race, sailing from Cape Town to Fremantle in Australia.
The voyage consisted of 5,575 nautical miles across the Southern Ocean, one of the most punishing and demanding of the race’s legs. She has sailed more than 16,000 miles from Liverpool to Punta Del Este, Uruguay, on to Cape Town, South Africa and finally to Australia.
The clipper teams started arriving in Fremantle on Saturday, 25th November and Elizabeth’s boat Unicef was first past the finishing line, winning that leg of the race by a good margin.
Elizabeth is proud of her boat and crew saying, “It was a great achievement, especially in view of the difficult conditions. After an incredibly tough and emotional leg we are delighted to have come first, but our win was overshadowed by several sad and tragic events.”
Shortly after leaving Cape Town one clipper ran aground and Unicef, the nearest boat, was asked to return to give any necessary help. The crew was safely evacuated but the boat could not be saved. Another clipper had to return to Port Elizabeth after a crew member was injured. On another boat someone was taken seriously ill but could not be medevac-ed because of the weather conditions, but was eventually taken off several days later by the Australian Navy.
Elizabeth continued, “Worst was the death of one of the crew of the Clipper Great Britain. Simon Spiers was washed overboard in heavy seas, in spite of being tethered. He was brought back on board within 35 minutes but could not be revived, even though another crew member was a doctor. This brought home to us all that while the race is highly competitive, we are all facing the same dangers and challenges and such a tragedy affects us all and brings us together in our thoughts for his family. He was buried at sea but a memorial service was held for Simon in Fremantle attended by the fleet, a sobering moment to reflect on the life of a clearly inspirational man.”
This leg of the race has officially become ‘the most challenging in Clipper Race history’ but as Elizabeth points out, among the hardships there were also joys, including the phenomenal bonds forged with her crew and moments under starry skies accompanied by dolphins covered in glowing phosphorescence.
Elizabeth added, “I’m really proud that I have achieved what I set out to do, sail half-way round the world. It has been a huge adventure and I’ve had to dig deeper than ever before to get through some pretty bad days. But these were outnumbered by the days of sheer wonder; the mountainous waves, sunsets and sunrises and spectacular marine life.”
Elizabeth was met at Fremantle by her husband John and a number of the returning and new crew. She and John are departing for a belated honeymoon in New Zealand. She will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the fleet as they complete the rest of the circumnavigation and especially on her boat Unicef, named after the charity for whom she is fundraising, along with the wheelchair fund for Melksham girl, Mia.
Elizabeth has nearly reached her target of £15,000. She is grateful to the many Melksham people who have supported her already, but anyone still wishing to contribute can do so at the following non profit-making website: http://uk. virginmoneygiving.com/ LiziSailsToAustralia