Forget socks and store-bought jumpers. Les Perry is a good example of the knock-on effect a carefully chosen gift can have. After his sister bought him a voucher for a day’s sailing on the Solent, Les got his first taste of being on an ex-Clipper Race Yacht and was awestruck by the feeling of being on the boat, with the open stretch of water laid out before him.The day after, he went down to the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool to watch the 2017-18 edition of the Clipper Race depart. “During the day the crew explained how the yacht had circumnavigated the world five times,” Les enthuses. With the memory of the sea and the stories of these sailors still fresh in his head, he sent off his application off that same evening.
Les’ spontaneity wasn’t unprecedented: he had a wealth of dinghy experience at a yacht club in North Wales, where two other members had also signed up for part of the race and was used to sailing with friends in the calm waters of the Mediterranean. But his need for a new challenge led to him setting his sights on the third leg of the Clipper Race. Designed for thrillseekers, this leg encapsulates some of the most exhilarating and testing conditions of the entire circumnavigation, with teams experiencing intense sleep deprivation and the notoriously strong winds of the Roaring Forties. When asked what his friends and family think about his race entry, Les answered, “Some of them were jealous, some of them were very impressed and the other set, including my mother, thought I was insane!”
“But the Southern Ocean with its fabled huge waves and storms, along with immense solitude, seemed perfect. This, coupled with the fact that I would be sailing to Australia, where my parents took myself and two sisters way back in 1959 when I was only three months old, made it an obvious choice for me.”
Despite being a seasoned sailor, Les had to complete two levels of training and gain some further experience with a Clipper 70 delivery back to its home in Portsmouth, UK, after the race concluded in Liverpool in July. As well as ensuring that he was up to the challenge of the competition, the training was vital preparation for meeting people from all walks of life: “The training was been excellent and I truly now have friends from all over the world who regularly keep in touch. One American friend, in particular, sends highly amusing and lengthy blogs of his experience on board with us all.”
Unsurprisingly, Les took to navigating a heeled over Clipper 70 racing yacht quickly. He explains: “The deck work was no problem to me as I am a roofer by trade, so it was like walking on a roof, however getting about below deck and getting into my top bunk at 3 am left me exasperated, exhausted and educated all at once!”
Stories like Les’ are at the heart of the Clipper Race, inspiring people to re-evaluate what they’re able to achieve when they take a risk. As the Official Technical Clothing Partner for the 2019-2020 edition of the race, Musto is looking forward to keeping sailors warm, dry and protected on their next adventure.
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