Clipper Race And De Lage Landen Unite Again

The Clipper Race and De Lage Landen have signed a new partnership deal – so there will soon be a new Clipper 70 sporting the distinctive De Lage Landen branding. Whilst there has been talk about the possibility of a GREAT Britain sponsored yacht, as far as I am aware, De Lage Landen are the first company to announce that they will be sponsoring one of the Clipper Yachts in the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race.

You might recall, I did my Level 1 training on the current De Lage Landen Clipper 68 yacht; as the first Clipper yacht I sailed on, I have a certain affinity with the yacht. Plus… the colour goes perfectly with my eyes 🙂

Additional information about the sponsorship deal from the Clipper Race website:

The Clipper 13-14 Race will set off from the UK in August on an eight-leg journey around the globe

Following a hugely successful partnership in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, De Lage Landen a global provider of leasing and finance solutions, has announced that it will continue the relationship, sponsoring a yacht entry in the 2013-14 edition of the world’s longest yacht race.

De Lage Landen, a subsidiary of Rabobank, invested in the Clipper 11-12 Race to launch a worldwide employee engagement programme following a period of global growth through acquisitions, with the yacht acting as a catalyst to unite their 5,400 members (employees) worldwide. Eight specially selected DLL Crew Ambassadors raced to their international offices on almost every continent.

The project flourished with De Lage Landen members coming together to celebrate the Clipper Race at stopovers around the world, including New York and the Dutch port of Den Helder. Positive reactions from customers across the globe were equally overwhelming.

De Lage Landen will use their involvement in the 2013-14 edition of the Clipper Race to build on that external success using the global reach of the Clipper Race to unify the business and engage with customers in key markets while building on their previous internal engagement initiative through a popular nomination process for staff to take part in the race, giving 16 specially selected members the chance to compete as a tag team in this extraordinary around the world adventure.

The partnership also keeps De Lage Landen at the forefront of the Clipper Race’s own growing success story. The 2013-14 edition of the race will see the introduction of the new fleet of Clipper 70 ocean racing yachts with De Lage Landen Embraces the World one of an expanded fleet of twelve boats and around 650 crew taking part in the 40,000-mile race.

Jan Kusters, Executive Board Member and Managing Director Europe and AsiaPac of De Lage Landen said: “This is the second time De Lage Landen will participate in the Clipper Race. We used the last edition to strengthen the connection between more than 5000 members of our worldwide organisation. We also brought customers aboard to witness this. This combination was a tremendous success. Therefore we are going to build further on this initiative, bringing our networking organisation to the next level.”

Set up by legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the Clipper Race is the only event of its kind for people from all walks of life, regardless of previous sailing experience, offering ordinary people the chance to achieve something extraordinary sailing around the world.

Sir Robin said: “We are delighted to welcome De Lage Landen back on board as an official yacht sponsor in the race. De Lage Landen’s vision to use the race to unite their members around the globe proved to be a great success and their renewed sponsorship demonstrates the power of the race to meet our partners’ objectives. With the introduction of the new fleet of Clipper 70s we hope there will be even greater opportunities for our partners and we know De Lage Landen will be at the forefront of the growing success of our event.”

De Lage Landen also benefited from significant global media coverage during the race with the brand reaching a cumulative global news media audience of over 120 million people and receiving a 30 per cent share of all Clipper 11-12 Race media coverage. De Lage Landen Embraces the World also featured prominently in the Clipper Race television documentary, Against The Tide, which is broadcast in 126 countries worldwide and reaches a cumulative audience of more than half a billion people.

via Clipper Race – Clipper Race And De Lage Landen Unite Again In New Partnership Deal.

10 Things I Learned during Level 1 Training

  1. Your little fingers are less important than your thumbs. When using a winch, make sure your hands are the right way around (little fingers towards the winch) or risk the Skippers’ wrath. Still, being told it is better to lose a little finger than lose a thumb is not overly comforting.
  2. Learn to bake bread. Then you too can take part in the ‘Great Clipper Bake Off’.

    Spelt, fig and walnut bread
    Here’s one I made earlier…
  3. Sometimes there are too many Chiefs / cooks. One mealtime there were 4 people in a very small galley discussing the best way of heating up quiches (in the oven?!). My suggestion of serving them cold wasn’t very well received. Funny thing was it was actually my turn to make the meal – and I couldn’t even get near the galley!
  4. Sometimes there are too many Indians. There was the (rare) occasion where no one person took charge of an evolution (sail change, putting in a reef etc.), resulting in long discussions about how something should be done and ending with the Skipper just telling us to get on with it as we were getting close to the beach. There are times when you just need to get on with things.
  5. Never turn down a cup of tea or coffee – you don’t know when you will be getting another one!
  6. Don’t leave your gear lying around. I managed to ‘temporarily misplace’ my head torch on the first night; it reappeared under a pile of sails on the last day during the deep clean of the yacht but it would have been much more useful earlier on in the week. Even more concerning to me was the number of times I lost my lifejacket down in the ghetto. Those extra minutes spent looking for it could have been extra minutes in a warm sleeping bag.
  7. Pay attention when someone is showing you which taps are fresh water and which are salt water. Yes – I did end up brushing my teeth with marina sea water with a dose of diesel and goodness knows what else on the first evening; the taste lingered for a good while afterwards.
  8. Make friends with your crew mates. They will be helming the yacht and carrying out manoeuvres whilst you are in your bunk below sleeping, spotting you if you have to climb a short way up the mast, cooking your dinner and making you coffee when you get out of bed at 1am and it is cold and wet.
  9. Physical fitness and upper body strength will be important. Sails are heavy to move around, winches need grinding, halyards need sweating and it can be hard work even climbing into and out of your bunk when the yacht is going upwind and everything in on an angle.
  10. Don’t forget your earplugs! With up to 18 people sleeping in the ‘ghetto’, the odds are that someone will snore. We were fortunate enough to have 3 such individuals and whilst earplugs didn’t totally block the noise, they certainly helped!

Level 1 Training Diary – Part 3

Andrew and Anne on Night WatchAt some point over the four hours between going off-watch to try to get some sleep and being woken with the news that it was really cold and wet on deck and to dress accordingly, the other watch had reached our furthest upwind destination for the trip and had turned the yacht around. This makes a huge difference to life on board the yacht. Imagine standing in your kitchen, trying to cook a meal for ten hungry people. Now imagine that the floor is sloping to a 35 degree angle and keeps rising and falling four to five metres at a time – and still having to cook that meal. I love upwind sailing when I am on deck – but life down below is hard work, even getting in and out of your bunk is a physical challenge. Once the yacht is sailing with the wind behind it, everything levels off and becomes much calmer and flatter.

Suitably bundled in many layers, we arrived back up on deck at 1am to torrential rain. The On deck at nightothers hadn’t been joking then when they said it was wet! Luckily after about an hour, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and we were treated to an amazing display in the night sky. There were so many stars and a rising moon and I even saw a shooting star. As the yacht was flatter now, I could helm the boat and spent a fantastic hour trying to surf down waves towards the moon.

Sailing at night is so different to sailing during the day. There are so many more challenges, like trying to figure out what the lights on ships mean, which way they are moving and even if they are on a collision course with you or not. Sometimes it felt like we were driving down the motorway at night, doing 80 miles an hour, with the headlights off! But in some ways it is calmer to daytime sailing; there are usually fewer people on deck as anybody off watch tends to be sleeping which means you get a chance to talk to the other members of your watch without a lot of distractions.

For the next four hours, we helmed in pairs; the wind was quite gusty and when the gusts hit it was hard to hold the yacht on course without some additional help. I was helming with Andrew and Freddy have a morning coffeeGus, another dinghy sailor, so between the two of us we spent our two hours trying to get a 68 foot, 32 tonne boat to surf down the waves… well it is just like a big Laser afterall, with a few extra sails! As we finished our watch at 5am, we were just approaching The Needles off the Isle of Wight, setting the Skipper and his watch up for a fantastic sunrise and sail up The Solent towards Cowes. I only have photographic evidence that it was a lovely sunrise… I was in my bunk trying to get warm and a bit of sleep.

Four hours pass very quickly; luckily we had a Skipper who liked to cook and we crawled out of the Crew Ghetto just before 9am to the smell of baking bread. There was even a bake-off between the Skipper and Tanja, a Croatian whose mother had insisted she learn to make bread at an early age; only once a girl can make bread is she ready to get married! We were treated to two loaves of freshly baked bread for breakfast on deck in the sunshine – both of which disappeared very quickly, giving us fuel for the activities the Skipper had planned for us that day!

The plan for the evening was to stay in East Cowes Marina – so the Skipper decided that we could stay up all day and do some more drills as we were going to get a good nights Laurent on the coffee grindersleep that evening. That meant a day of tacking, gybing, reefing and man overboard drills, followed by a Le Mans start upwind race with Visit Finland. In a Le Mans start, the yachts line up next to each other with their mainsails hoisted and their headsails hanked on and ready to go. On each of the yachts the crew wait behind the big winch on deck called the coffee grinder for the start signal, at which point they race forward to hoist the headsails and trim them as quickly as possible. The crew who manages to do this the quickest will get a lead over the yacht whose crew are slower. Unfortunately that crew was us due to a combination of poor planning and equipment problems.

Dinghy RowOnce we had tied up in East Cowes Marina, it was time to get the dinghy out and pump it up for our next challenge. As part of our Level 1 training, we were being assessed for the RYA Competant Crew certificate which meant that we each had to demonstrate that we could row a dinghy. With a safety line attached to our life jackets, we each took it in turns to row between the pontoons; on completion we were given the code to the shower block and allowed to go and get a warm shower.

After an evening in the pub and a good nights sleep, we were ready for our last day at sea. De Lage Landen during a sailing evolutionUnfortunately there was not much wind to play with, but that didn’t stop the Skippers of our yacht and Visit Finland setting up a number of races between the two crews. As we had lost the race the day before to Visit Finland, we were told in no uncertain terms that we would not be losing the races today – luckily we managed to better organise ourselves as a crew which meant we won the majority of the races (and the promise of a drink from the Skipper that evening!)

For the final hour at sea, we put the spinnaker up again – and this time I got to helm under spinnaker which was an amazing experience. Visit Finland were doing mast climbs just behind our yacht, and one of their crew managed to get a number of fantastic pictures of me helming De Lage Landen under spinnaker from the top of the mast. I love the reflection of the sails in this picture – not bad for a Laser sailor who is used to only having one sail to deal with!

Helming under spinnaker
De Lage Landen under spinnaker in The Solent

Level 1 Training Diary – Part 2

On the second evening of training, I had an encounter with ‘The ankle breaker’. This is a raised area of the deck which people use to brace themselves against when the boat is heeled over to one side going upwind. It is even painted fluorescent orange to deter people from standing on it. But after a long day of sailing, I was getting ready to start packing the spinnaker away, when I stepped down onto the deck and ended up in a heap by the entrance to the companionway. I may have uttered a few choice words at this point. Luckily for me, I only sprained my ankle (but with some oh-so-impressive bruising :)) but as the plans for the next three days were to sail offshore, I needed to be sure that I could at least move around the yacht and be a useful member of the crew.

The following morning, after a discussion with the Skipper, I decided that I would carry on with the training week. Even though we had only spent two days together as a crew, everyone had gelled as a group immediately and I couldn’t imagine leaving the yacht at this point and returning in a few months time to start training again.

We set off from Gosport heading out to the English Channel around the Isle of Wight. The plan was to sail upwind for two days towards Dartmouth, then turn around and come back downwind. Before we had set sail, we had been divided into watches. This means that the crew is split in half and works four hours on watch, four hours off watch all day and all night. As there were only eight of us on board a yacht that is usually raced with eighteen crew, this was going to be a tough challenge, especially as the weather forecast was predicting strong winds which mean lumpy seas and the probability that at least some of the crew would succomb to sea-sickness pretty quickly.

After a few hours out at sea, there were a few people starting to look a bit green, so they were given tasks like helming to keep them occupied. I have always been lucky that I am not affected by sea-sickness – however I took some painkillers for my ankle that didn’t agree with me and I ended up in a bunk for the best part of twelve hours. Sis – I know how you feel now! The bunk I was put in was right underneath the cockpit, next to the navigation station, which was great because I could hear everything that was going on on deck, even the Croatian singing when Tanja was on the helm! It was also interesting to hear the difference in the sound that the water made as it swept past the hull, depending on who was on the helm at the time.

After about ten hours, I started to feel better and was about to go back up on deck when someone hit a wave and I got bounced back into the bunk. As I lay there for a few minutes to recover from another bruise, the Skipper took the helm and before I knew it I had fallen asleep, only to be woken as we entered Weymouth harbour for the night. The Skippers of both our yacht and Visit Finland who were sailing in proximity to us had decided that we didn’t need learn how to be sea-sick or how to deal with exhaustion as we would get enough experience of that along the way and with half of each crew down with sea-sickness, it was better for everyone to get a few hours of sleep and we would continue on our journey up wind in the morning. After a cup of tea on deck, with the obligatory chocolate and biscuits, it was time to get some sleep.

We awoke the following morning to brilliant sunshine; it was great to see Weymouth harbour and the Nothe Fort which had recently played a big part in the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events. We followed Visit Finland out of the harbour and continued on our journey up wind.

Our route took us out into the open seas which were building all the time. We passed Portland Bill lighthouse and then went out across Lyme Bay, heading for Dartmouth. In the space of one four hour watch, my watch had to take a reef out of the main sail, put in reef one, then reef two, then reef three, tack the boat and then take a reef out. With only four crew (including one with a dodgy ankle) and the first mate as watch leader it was hard work, especially as the boat was bouncing around on the waves. We gladly handed the yacht over to the other watch once our time was up and went below to try and get some sleep.

Level 1 Training Log

Yacht ‘CV8’ De Lage Landen Clipper 68 foot Cutter Rig Sloop

Wind Max F7

402 Nautical Miles (Tidal)

7 days on board

12 night hours

Gosport – Solent (Training) – Weymouth – Dartmouth – Cowes – Gosport

Countless tacks, gybes, reefs in, reefs out, head sail changes and man overboard drills

4  bunks

Innumerable cups of tea and coffee

Unlimited supply of doughnuts (well… I think we ran out on the last day)

RYA Competent Crew and Level 1 Clipper training certificates achieved

1 encounter with the ankle breaker

7-14 September 2012