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Clipper 2019-20 Race | Donna Von Tonk's #ReasonToRace

The start of something big always comes with an element of risk, but once out of your comfort zone, you may discover that you were never all that comfortable to begin with. The Clipper Race is full of people who made unique decisions to step away from the familiarity of their desks, friends and family onto a 40,000-mile circumnavigational racetrack.

In this #ReasonToRace series, we’ll be taking a closer look at the stories behind the people embarking on this incredibly challenging event.


  • Name: Donna Von Tunk
  • Age: 47
  • Occupation: Chiropractor
  • Nationality: Australian Hometown: Victoria, Australia, now lives in Langford, Bedfordshire, UK
  • Legs: Full Circumnavigation

When Donna Von Tunk, an Australia-born 47-year-old chiropractor from Bedfordshire, went to the Americas Cup Race in Portsmouth in 2015, she couldn’t have known the life-changing consequences speaking to two of the Clipper 2015-16 Race Crew would have. “A fire was lit and my enthusiasm for this race took off,” Donna admits. “By January 2018, I had my interview and signed up for the ‘race of my life’. Being immersed in Mother Nature at her most powerful, raw and remote had a strong appeal.

“I initially signed up for part of the race (Legs 3,4,5 and 6 of the 8 Legs) but since [watching] fellow Australian Clipper Race Skipper Wendy Tuck lead her Sanya Serenity Coast team to victory in Liverpool this year, I was inspired to sign up for the whole circumnavigation.”

Donna’s spirit of adventure has led her to some extreme environments – such as camping out in tents in the North Pole and sailing in the Arctic and Caribbean. Despite all of this, the Clipper Race was an exciting and intimidating prospect, with more people having climbed Mount Everest than circumnavigated the planet.

Donna, like every Clipper Race crew member, will need to pass each of its four gruelling levels, two of which Donna has passed already. Preparation is key: the last edition saw race teams battle ‘phenomenal sea states’ with 14-metre-high waves, hurricane force winds, boat speeds up to 35 knots (the equivalent of 40 mph), extreme heat and freezing conditions.



But preparation isn’t just physical and psychological. Musto, the Technical Clothing Partner to the Clipper Race, will be providing HPX Gore-Tex® Pro Series smock and trousers to the crew. These pieces have been tested to their absolute limits in the Southern Ocean and been engineered to keep sailors dry and focused.

Having had the chance to preview the new gold range during the Musto launch, Donna added: “The Musto technical equipment I’ve used so far is top quality. The salopettes and smocks are serious pieces of kit that are well made and comfortable to wear. I’m looking forward to concentrating on the sailing and racing, because I know I can trust that my Musto clothing will do its job well.”



Technology has ensured that friends, family and patients can follow Donna’s journey – up-to-the-minute. When Donna sets off next summer, she will have a team of supporters following her on the Clipper Race Viewer. “My family are very excited about me doing this circumnavigation not least because it involves a stop in Australia where they are going to meet up with me. Some of my friends from the UK are also going to fly out to various stopovers to meet up with me so they can have holidays and see the race.

“Seeing those friendly and familiar faces will certainly give me a great boost after being at sea for weeks.”

Between now and then, Donna will be taking on extra training in addition to the compulsory race training in the form of her RYA Day Skipper certificate.


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