It’s not every day that you race against your family, but for mother and daughter duo Linda and Sophie Crocker, the past 10 months have been extremely competitive as they battle it out across the world’s oceans in this year’s race.
Linda, a 48-year-old Physiotherapist from St Albans first heard about the Clipper Race when she saw the fleet in London a couple of years ago. A keen sailor, it was her dream to race an ocean and thought it would make the ultimate gap year adventure for her student daughter Sophie, who at 19 is the youngest female on the race.
Reflecting on her unique adventure, Sophie, who is taking part in Legs 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 on board IchorCoal which is currently eleventh place overall says: “It’s been really fantastic and interesting to compare what I have experienced in comparison to my friends’ gap years – the race has been a great thing to do and I have learnt a lot of different things.
“It was great to have mum on board too and that aspect added a competitive edge to the race personally for me. The highlight of my race so far has to be this Atlantic crossing, with 60 knots off a wave, knowing the rest of the fleet was in the rain whilst we were in a sun! I have worked a lot on my helming and I have learnt that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was both physically and mentally. I can be given a job and know that I can do it.
“I have also learnt that I am more comfortable around people and this race has helped me to see that everyone should be given time. That will help me approach people at university and start a conversation instead of being shy in the corner. I play four instruments and am going to study music technology. I have learnt to cook and bake bread on board which I wasn’t very good at before and that will also help me for university. I know I’ll accidently cook for 21 people at university as we have been doing on the boats for the past 10 months, it will take me a while to get out of that habit! I think I will still try to pack everything into dry bags too!”
Speaking of her race coming to an end and the reception in Derry-Londonderry, Sophie adds: “It’s weird that we have crossed the final ocean but it’s awesome to be here, there has been such a build-up since Race Start that Derry-Londonderry is a fantastic stopover and it is a great place. Getting recognised as you walk along the marina is great. I am proud of what I have done and for other people to acknowledge it too is really nice and reaffirms that it is a unique achievement.”
Welcoming Sophie into Derry-Londonderry, mother Linda, who took part in Legs 2 and 5 on board Qingdao, lying in fifth place overall, says: “It’s good to be here to see Sophie arrive, I can’t believe the race is almost over. For me this was a real project working two jobs to make it happen. I still feel a big part of the race even though I’m not on board anymore.
“It’s been lovely watching Sophie develop and grow. She signed up when she was 16 and now she’s 19 and is an independent woman. I am really pleased we did it and have experienced it together even though we are on different boats. Coming into port was always great knowing we would see each other if only for a short time and swap our stories on board. It’s nice to communicate and a great way of spending time together which you don’t always get at home. To start with I wanted to be on the same boat but Sophie didn’t and that is right because I am my own person on the race, not ‘Sophie’s mum’.”
Talking about her own experience Linda says: “My personal highlight is seeing the world in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen it, sailing out in the middle of the ocean with the spinnaker up and on the helm - that is wonderful. I definitely have lots of things that I really enjoyed from my experience. I think more mums should get out there and do it.”
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