Be prepared - a Scout Leader’s inspiring circumnavigation

08 September 2014

Scout Leader George Bayles was the youngest male to sail around the world during the Clipper 2013-14 Race. Here he tells us about his story, having inspired Scout Groups across the globe during his year-long adventure.

“It is easy when you go to your local Scout meetings to think that Scouting is limited to your area – taking part in the Clipper Race made me realise that Scouting is a huge worldwide family,” explained George.

The 20-year-old from Somerton, Somerset was a crew member on board the Chinese sponsored entry, Qingdao. As well aspulling his weight in a range of challenging roles on board, George also set out on a personal challenge to meet and inspire as many Scouts as possible, in destinations around the globe, including Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Australia and Singapore to mention just a few.

“I would not like to single out any group as my favourite. All the groups gave me such a warm welcome and made me feel very special. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to sail with the 1st Bergvliet Sea Scouts in South Africa at their two hour sailing event. Everyone wanted me to be in their boat so I spent the whole evening jumping from boat to boat.

“Throughout the race I loved meeting Scouts around the world, sharing my story and helping to inspire them to think big and follow their dreams. Giving a tour of Qingdao was so much fun – no matter where I was, everyone wanted to go below decks straight away, and they were always so surprised how small a space it was down there.”

After racing half way around the world, George and his team received a now infamous welcome in their homeport of Qingdao, as thousands of spectators swarmed the marina, eager to catch a glimpse of the inspirational crew including the first Chinese woman to sail around the world, Vicky Song:

“Arriving in Qingdao is something I will never forget. We were met five miles out by Vicky’s friends and family and as we came into port I was amazed by the size of the crowd waiting to welcome us in. As the home boat, we had a huge welcome from everyone and I was made to feel very special.I It was the best welcome we had on the whole of the race.”

With over 40,000 miles under his belt and a wealth of experience to match, there were a few other special moments that George will be sure to never forget:

“There were many moments that really stuck out for me. One was off the coast of Japan where we going travelling at over 30 knots and over taking the huge tankers. I also enjoyed helming while surfing down the huge waves in the Southern Ocean, both were a huge adrenalin rush.

“Another memorable moment was receiving a good luck video from the UK Chief Scout Leader, Bear Grylls, ahead of participating in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day last Christmas. It made me feel really proud and helped me focus on the race ahead,” added George.

Eager to continue his sailing career, George and several former Clipper Race crew joined forces to compete in the Regatta Palermo to Monte Carlo Race last month, placing eleventh out 40 entries.

“It was a great moment and something that I would never had the confidence to have taken part in if it wasn’t for the Clipper Race. Now I’m back, the plan is to start working towards my RYA Yachtmaster Certificate in the hope I can turn my passion into a full time career.”

With training for the Clipper 2015-16 Race now well under way, George is keen to offer a few words of advice for future race crew.

“As the Scouts say – always be prepared! Go into it with an open mind and try and have a go at everything. Always remember that this is your adventure, so make sure you enjoy it and get everything you possibly can from your time on the race.”