After all the joy of crew allocation came the information that I was changing boats – I was no longer to be on Hull & Humber, but was instead to be on CV2 – it certainly proved that I should not have been so cocky and definitely should not have been gloating!
The first thing I did was look on the clipper website to see who was on the team…I had concentrated on Hull & Humber during the crew allocation day and was uncertain who was on CV2, although I knew the skipper was Pete Sterling, from my part B, and probably the skipper with the most “ocean” hours in the race. The website showed that Owen (from my part B) was on the boat, and I remembered from he had suggested that there was a strong feeling the boat was likely to be Merseyside based…I immediately started fearing that the boat song would be Yellow Submarine. I recognised no other names on the published list and since the team photographs were not published yet I could not see if I knew any others.
However shortly after I had a welcome email from the Skipper I had my first team email, which included another name I recognised from Part A. “Charles in Charge” had been left off the website until he told his employers he was taking ten months off (which has since been done)…he was the most experienced sailor in my part A crew and had taken me under his wing to teach me such things as navigation along with basic “try not to break things
- sailing”. All of a sudden I started to feel that missing out on the team bonding at crew allocation was not such a problem – I knew three of the team members (one legger, one RTWer and the skipper), and it would not take long to get to meet everyone and start to feel part of the team.
One thing that had been decided in my absence on crew allocation day was the crew fund. Each boat asks the team mates to contribute some money to kit the boat out with luxuries that will make the sailing more pleasant. Items such as fans for the tropics, netting to help preserve vegetables or helming gloves. Last race one boat even invested in an ice cream maker (which broke on the very first leg!) Each boat has a different policy and it had been decided that a budget of between £30-£50 per crew per leg was being set aside…a final amount of between £3,000 - £5,000. This was quite high compared with many other boats, but as long as everything on the list was designed to “make the boat go faster” it seemed a worthy sacrifice…the only problem was that some of the RTWers would have to make significant contributions to the fund, and after taking a year off and paying a significant fee for doing the race some were finding it very hard.
One of the key items on the list as far as I was concerned was stainless steel thermos mugs…on both part A and part B hot drinks had not stayed hot for long and I struggle to function without tea. However earlier in the year I had been to a Hotel Investment Conference where DLA Piper had been giving the perfect mugs away as presents. Knowing what such conferences are like I guessed there was a great chance that there would have been some spare mugs, so I rather cheekily emailed Karen Friebe Head of Hospitality Property at DLA Piper and asked whether she fancied sponsoring our unnamed boat by donating twenty mugs. Almost instantly Karen offered to send the mugs over and asked if we needed any more. I was absolutely thrilled – not so much because we had knocked £100 of our crew fund budget but it was the first thing I had been able to contribute to the team. The following morning a courier arrived with the mugs – and I immediately emailed the team.
The effect was massive on team morale…just about everyone started thinking where they could get things from…over £1,000 had been allocated to team shirts…this was brought down to somewhere between free and £100…at the current time the items listed have been reduced by £1,900…it is my intention to beg the skipper to let us buy a beer fridge with the money saved! It was the very first evidence I saw (having missed the bonding session at Crew
Allocation) that we had the capability to become an extremely good team.
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