RWB sailor rises to the challenge in round the world yacht race

AN impressive sight greeted onlookers in London this weekend as a fleet of 70 foot yachts returned from the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World ace.

Onboard the gold and black branded Ichorcoal yacht was Tony Griffiths, an IT professional from Royal Wootton Bassett who until a few months ago had almost no sailing experience at all.

51-year-old Tony joined the yacht in New York six weeks earlier to take part in three races along the 5,000 mile journey back to the UK.

“I think it will only really start to sink in over the next few days,” said Tony, now back on dry land for the first time in weeks.

“It’s still feels a bit weird, I think I’ve still got my sea legs on.”

Tony was inspired to apply for the race after seeing the advert in a GWR magazine.

Motivated by the challenge to do something different he thought “Crikey – I might give that a go.”

Until that point, his only experience of sailing was a short ‘competent crew’ course during a holiday about ten years ago.

Tony recalled how, living by the Hampshire coast, he would cycle down to the beach and see the yachts out at sea.

While he enjoyed himself on that short introductory course, personal circumstances meant he never got the opportunity to put the skills he had learned into practice - until now.

All participants in the Clipper race have to do four weeks of mandatory training before they set off, getting used to all the evolutions they would have to pull off out at sea along with the required safety drills.

Tony said: “It’s all very well doing that stuff in training but it’s when you get out there and you’re racing at sea that it really comes together.

“When you’re in race mode, putting reefs in, getting the sails up, you just sit back and think wow – that was good.”

The Clipper race is open to people of all ages and a variety of backgrounds, some take part in the full round the world experience but most, like Tony, choose a particular leg of the trip and take part for a few weeks at a time.




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