31 July 2014

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Tried & Tested: summer sail


As far as sailing experiences go, racing a 68ft yacht in perfect weather conditions is up there with the best. Team V&E took to the Solent with Clipper Events

T&T summer sail - Clipper_Venture_287_-_web.jpg (Image courtesy of Tristan Newkey-Burden)

Two welcome sights greet us as we arrive in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays: blue skies and bacon sandwiches. Our crew of 12 – five of us, six clients and a photographer with sturdy sea legs – is excited to be spending a day aboard Edinburgh just before it sets off on the Clipper Round the World Race.

Clipper portsmouth - Clipper_Venture_035_web.jpg (Image courtesy of Tristan Newkey-Burden)

Few of us have any previous sailing experience, so we welcome the thorough safety briefing on deck. By the time we’re dressed in lifejackets and waterproofs, we feel like proper sailors. Almost.

Later in the day, we’ll be racing a corporate team on an identical yacht so our skipper – competitive to the last – insists we learn the ropes: tugging, winching and fastening a spaghetti plate of cord.

Clipper portsmouth - Clipper_Venture_357_-_web.jpg (Image courtesy of Tristan Newkey-Burden)

After a hearty on-board lunch and tactics talk, we line up for the first of two races, jostling for the all-important wind at the starting line. We’re off to a great start, but soon trail, with the opposition stealing the wind from our sails. Taking our cue from the skipper, we work hard to gain waves but it isn’t to be. All we can do is watch as the other crew bursts into cheering and ostentatious arm waving.

Clipper portsmouth - Clipper_Venture_167_web.jpg (Image courtesy of Tristan Newkey-Burden)

As we ready ourselves for race two, we’re all feeling quite able, building up to each manoeuvre, taking control of our stations and summoning as much grit as possible. There’s a new determination on board, powering us along at a healthy 12 knots. Sure enough, we leave the competition trailing in our wash and cross the marker first. A forward-thinking MD would seize this moment to deliver an uplifting company speech but, having left ours in the office, we sit back and soak up the last afternoon sun on the way back to shore.

Sailing days can be organised for groups of just about any size (6-12 guests per boat), with prices from £158pp. Check out the Clipper 70s – the world’s newest and largest identical fleet of ocean racers.

Clipper Events, tel: 02392 526000, squaremeal.co.uk/clipper

This article was first printed in Square Meal Venues & Events, Summer 2013

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