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The latest addition to the Brandwave Team, Graphic Designer, Jamie Kerr looks at how sport can challenge the way you think and ultimately change your mindset…

A few years back, I decided to take on a new sports adventure, which was to join the Clipper Events Round Britain and Ireland Race. Having spent a good proportion of my childhood on motorboats during my weekends and holidays, it stood out to me as a new and exciting challenge. With only a few days of actual sailing experience it certainly meant lots of learning and cold days on the water. So, with very minimal sailing knowledge and some determination, I decided to take the plunge and sign up.

The Clipper race itself consists of nine crew and three staff (including a professional skipper). We were on the Clipper 68 Racing Yachts that were due to be retired after completing the Clipper Round the World Race for the past 2 years and the new 70’s were on the way. This would be the last hurrah for these boats and sadly there was only two teams competing, but that still meant the race was on!

The race consisted of an 1,800-mile race that was divided into three parts of non-stop racing action.

Before joining, we all had to do a three-day training course, which consisted of using all the equipment, tacking, clothing safety onboard and loads more. We also had to complete an RYA/ISAF offshore safety course. There were times where I started to wonder what I had signed up for after being pushed into the ocean and waiting for my crewmates to come and get me back onboard. Nevertheless, we all completed it and were on track to join our race boats and crew in a couple of months time.

The day had come to finally board. Welcome to Yorkshire, which would be my home for the next 12 days or so. On the Thursday we all boarded our boats and had three days for last minute training setup and night watch practice. This was the last chance for both teams to finalise any details and get the boats and crew prepped for the next 11+ days of sailing. Sunday was the day we finally got on our way, setting off from outside Gosport. Heading counter clockwise we headed off, with us slowly taking the lead and keeping a much tighter line heading towards Dover, but sadly we ended up losing race number one, passing the line under an hour behind.

“It was a great finish to a superb first race for us. We had some awesome conditions, seeing us broad-racing pretty much all the way from the Solent. To make it up to the top of Britain in less than four days is really good going and we count ourselves lucky to have had such great racing conditions.”

Piers Dudi – Scottish race skipper

One of the most challenging sections was the North Sea, where we faced some big swells and tough conditions. Night watches were spent looking out for other vessels and trying not to get hit by jellyfish being pushed over the (high side) of the boat from the waves. For company, we had pitch black darkness, fog horns and the occasional flicker of light in the distance from an offshore oil rig. It really makes you wonder how your body can react when being up on deck at 4am after 2hr sleeping shifts (that’s if you get any sleep). Your vision and senses are heightened, taking in every sound and motion on the boat.

Thankfully, I was OK sea sickness wise, but there is no getting away from it once it’s set in, especially in the open, like the North Sea. We finally made it around the Shetland islands, which provided a small bit of much needed shelter from the ongoing swell. The water’s really do live up to their name up around Northern Scotland. The second race was the downward line from Scotland, which was perfect Reaching conditions for the 68’s and some strong winds made it a very fast downward leg.

“In fact the RBIR is over three times longer than the Fastnet Race and will take the skippers and crew members over the top of the Orkney Islands and into the Arctic Circle before heading back south again. Starting and finishing in the Solent the Yachts set off anti-clockwise towards the dover Straits before turning north and heading to the Orkney Islands. Once around the Orkney Islands, the yachts head south west around Saint Kilda before continuing south again, rounding Fastnet Rock, Scilly Isles and Lands End before the finish in the Solent. The crew members will have to cope with a huge number of elements, which all make this race just as compelling: The Vagaries of the tides and unpredictable weather, dodging oil rigs, pleasure cruisers and container ships as well as relying on tactical and navigational decisions and great seamanship to get them round the course. Most sailors agree that this race is one of the toughest tests as its nonstop race in some of the busiest waters in the world and requires exemplary tactical and navigational skills.”

Race Director Joff Bailey.

We ended up taking the second leg win by a 30-minute margin after a few tactical tacks and great navigation from our skipper. We went into the final leg (the sprint) at 1-1, with the final leg deciding the winner of the RBIR. Both teams went into the final race tired and feeling the aches of the past 10 or so days of nonstop racing., but knowing this was the final push and that it was neck and neck to the finish line.

Race three was a close race, with our team edging it and taking the overall by a matter of minutes ahead of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.

“We were absolutely neck and neck with Edinburgh Inspiring Capital for the last 50 miles of the race with both teams doing their utmost to outwit and out manoeuvre each other. We’re very pleased with the result and were pushed hard all the way to the finish line.

We had a fantastic sail across the Irish Sea from the start line at the Fastnet Rock with very fast beam reaching conditions. The wind gradually decreased after we rounded the Scilly Isles and by the time, we reached St Albans Ledge we were virtually becalmed. It required great concentration by all the crew to stay focussed and regain then maintain the lead over Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.

The crew worked very hard throughout the three races and were exhausted but ecstatic at the result.

RBIR winning skipper, Pete Stirling as he docked in Royal Clarence Marina.

This adventure not only made me realise how much sport can push you further than you think, but also how it can be the starter for change, whether that be increasing someone’s confidence, or the drive to take up an entirely new sport. It makes people challenge themselves when they think they are unable to do something.

Previous fastest times were 11 days 20 hours, 8 minutes

With my passion for sports and being near the water so strong, joining Brandwave was the perfect fit. Getting to work with like-minded people as well as working with some of the leading sports brands across the globe is really the icing on the cake.

James Kerr