WATCH: Frustrations and triumphs of the Clipper Round The World Race
After 12,000 nautical miles and 33 days at sea, Will Stokely from Southsea has returned from the Clipper Round the World Race.
The race saw seven people from in and around the Portsmouth area tackle the 40,000-mile challenge divided into eight legs and covering six continents.
Tech Development Manager Will completed Leg 1 (Liverpool to Punta del Este in Uruguay) and Leg 6 (Qingdao, China to Seattle, USA).
The 47-year-old said: ‘It’s good to be back as we’ve been out there for a long time.
‘It’s the end of the race for me so it’s bitter sweet.
‘The yachts are fabulous things to sail and I’ve loved every minute of it.
‘But I’m now looking forward to spending a week in Seattle.’
Will and his team, Visit Seattle, encountered a storm during the hardcore race which saw them cover the Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.
He said: ‘For all of us, that was our favourite time as for 24 hours there was a massive storm. You’ve seen things like it on the television but to be there in it was just amazing. We were well prepared for it, we knew it was coming. Words fail me, it was just fantastic.
‘You see stuff on television and think it’s been enhanced.
‘But it was every bit like that, if not more. Savage and beautiful at the same time.’
Founded by the first person to sail non-stop around the world, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, this year marks 22 years since the race began in 1996 with more than 4,000 people taking part since then.
Over 700 crew, divided into 12 teams, took to the seas in the 70-foot racing yachts and have completed many roles whilst on board including Bowman (runs foredeck of the boat), Helmsman (controls the boat) and Mother watcher (cleaning and cooking).
Speaking about the hurricane force winds and waves of up to 14 metres faced by the crews, Sir Robin said: ‘Oceans do not distinguish between professional and non-professional seafarers.
‘The conditions faced in this North Pacific leg would test the most experienced of sailors. The hurricane force winds have certainly been the toughest since our crew left Liverpool eight months ago.
‘They have seen nature in the raw, conditions that would terrify most sailors, but they have come through it and given themselves an experience that most people on this planet can only ever visualise. They can really call themselves sailors now.’
Training for the races was completed at Gosport Marina and the boats left the harbour in August last year for Liverpool, where the race began.
Forty per cent of the participants had little or no experience of sailing before their training in Gosport, but Will described how his team pulled together despite their previous lack of seafaring.
He said: ‘As a team we worked really well together. I never felt scared or worried or unsafe. Everyone is watching each others backs, everyone is clipped on twice. I had faith in Nikki (skipper Nicola Henderson) and the rest of the team – we worked together comfortably.
‘I just recall we were chatting as everything happened. We were enjoying the moment, we were confident, we weren’t in fear of our lives or worrying.
‘It was an amazing, incredible experience to have.’
The race finishes on July 28 when all the boats will arrive back in Liverpool.