Crew Allocation day is where you find out who your skipper will be. It’s in a large auditorium with lively commotion at Portsmouth University. It’s an opportunity to mingle with others as up until this point we were homogeneous, not knowing who our actual teammates would be.
Crew Allocation day was also an opportunity for me to get my official head shot for the race. We were told to put on loaner gear and have our photo professionally taken. This photo will be used on the Clipper website. I’m not one to get professional photos taken of me (I think my high school year book and my wedding were the only times!), but there is something that makes you warm inside when you see a photo of yourself done professionally. The photo shoot also helped solidify that this is actually happening and I am going to be crew in the Clipper Race!
It’s A Really Small World
I had an empty seat next to me and it was about 5 minutes before the start of the event. A tall man came and sat in the empty seat. I heard him exchange pleasantries with the guy on the other side of him and heard an American accent. Given most people attending the event were from the United Kingdom I was pleasantly surprised. I started chatting to him and found out that he lived in the big city near me. When I started drilling in a bit deeper, he told me the small city he actually lives in, which to my amazement is the city I live in. He literally lives 2 miles from me. What are the odds of that?
The program started with an introduction of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who is the founder of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. He is better known as the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, winning the 1968-1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
There is much anticipation as the skippers are introduced. The skippers then start to read off the list of names of their crew. To keep the suspense going, each skipper only reads half of the names until all skippers have gone, then back to the top of the order. I was in the second round and allocated to Team Mark. Awesome! Mark Burkes had sailed as crew and as relief skipper in prior editions of the race. I was extremely pleased to be on a team with a skipper who knows what this race is about.
The rest of the day was spent in a breakout session with my new team. We did ice breakers and team building activities. In one ice breaker we each had to share something about ourselves anonymously. I wrote down that I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Skipper Mark read out loud a few of our shares and mine was selected. It turns out a lot of people were impressed on that feat. To me it was just another personal challenge that hundreds of other people have done. But in the big scheme of things it is something that most people wouldn’t even attempt. It was a reminder to be humble but proud of your personal achievements. You never know what you perceive as simple may inspire someone else to dream big and achieve what you now take for granted. I think the Clipper Race is a perfect example of this.