Race 13 - Day 6
Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool
27 July

Thomas (Phil) Whittaker
Thomas (Phil) Whittaker
Team Visit Seattle
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What can I say? This is the end of a very long journey which for me started way back in July last year. I did the last 2 weeks of my training in July, followed by prep week and delivery to Liverpool. In hindsight not the best planning.

So after over a year being a “full time” sailor how does it feel to be finally finishing? To say the least my emotions are mixed. The journey has been long, and in truth not always fun. It has encompassed many extremes of climate and of personal challenge.

We have been privileged to have sailed the worlds oceans, and we have experienced the highs and lows associated with doing this. We have sweated on the hot legs, the sweat literally running down our bodies while we worked below cooking, packing sails, or repairing sails. We have been cold and wet, to the extent of wearing 6/7 layers of clothing, with the added torture that the layers were inevitably wet when taken off and at best warm and damp when put back on a few hours later. We have lived at extreme angles and in discomfort for weeks at a time, with all that that entails, for example the horror of the toilet visits.

By contrast we have been fortunate enough to see some of the wonders of the world. Nights so clear that even with no moon you could see by the star light. Seas so wild and big in the Pacific that made our small boat seem like the only safe place in the world. An endless array of sea life, the most amusing of which were the birds off the US West coast hitching lifts on the back of turtles. And not least of all, the man made marvel of the Panama canal.

Through all of this the RTW crew and Nikki have shared these experiences with our “leggers”. I am sure that most boats would say this but we have been truly blessed with our crew. We always had very committed and dedicated crew on each and every leg. Every legger contributed massively to our overall success in making the journey possible, and while most of them think that the RTW crew are certifiably mad, we have benefited so much from their injections of enthusiasm and energy on every leg.

Also, we must not forget the unbelievable level of support we have had from our fanatical supporter base. At every port it has been easy to see the splash of green in the crowd where are supporters are shouting their heads off as we arrive. Even in Cape Town with a very early morning arrival our supporters had been there all night waiting for us.

So how will I feel when we berth in Liverpool? Well to be honest I will be relieved that it is all over, and that I have endured to the end, but at the same time it will be with significant sense of loss. I will not be with this crazy group of people any longer. I will never again helm a 70 foot boat with a spinnaker flying and surfing at over 20 knots. I will never again see the ocean as wild as it was in the Pacific, and my days as a bow 1 will be finally over. So I will leave the boat with a sense of loss.

Finally, a big personal thank you to the Clipper organisation and staff. It has been an honour to work with such a dedicated group of individuals. Not only because they give us beer on arrival although that does help, but because of their support and empathy for what we are going through. We have also been able to undertake an incredible journey, which simply would not be possible without the Clipper organisation.

So thank you to everyone, Nikki, RTW crew, leggers, supporters and Clipper staff for making this an unforgettable year.