Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Sailing novice ready to join round the world yacht race

Sailing novice ready to join round the world yacht race

A WOMAN from Sonning Common is to take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Physiotherapist Tammy Hirst, 53, of Crowsley Way, will join the fifth leg of the annual race, sailing 6,500 nautical miles from Airlie Beach in Australia to Zhuhai in China in January.

She will be part of a 20-strong crew on board a 70ft clipper and will be at sea for about two months.

Miss Hirst hopes to raise £15,000 for Unicef and the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of a friend’s daughter who was killed by the disease when she was 21.

Eleven clippers will take part in the race, which will begin at St Katharine Docks Marina in London on September 1 and will feature eight legs over 11 months.

The ships will cover more than 40,000 nautical miles, stopping in Portimao in Portugal, Punta Del Este in Uruguay, Cape Town in South Africa and Fremantle in Australia before the fifth leg.

They will also pass Qingdao in China and Seattle in America before passing through the Panama Canal and visiting New York and Bermuda before crossing the Atlantic to the finish line back in London.

More than 700 people are taking part in the challenge, which was the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to complete a solo, non-stop circumnavigation.

Miss Hirst, who works at Emmer Green Surgery, will be on board the clipper Visit Sanya, which is sponsored by the city on the southern end of China’s Hainan Island.

She said: “It’s very exciting. I’m obviously nervous but I’m also very confident. The training has been very comprehensive and they are incredibly strict about safety.

“I like a challenge and wanted to do something that I could look back on and think ‘that was quite an achievement’. I have always liked the water. Rowing and swimming are the things I like most but I have never really sailed so it was a challenge learning something new.”

Miss Hirst said her family and friends were supportive and would be following her progress.

She said: “People were quite shocked because it’s a big thing and I have never had a long break from work before and I am not a sailor.

“It did come a bit out of the blue. I first read about it on Facebook and kept looking up a bit more information and eventually went for an interview where I got sucked into it.”

Miss Hirst, who rowed when she was at Gillotts School in Henley, has been training in the Channel and on the Solent.

She has also undergone a sea survival course and life raft training.

“It’s very intensive, absolutely brutal,” she said. “It’s physically really tough.

“You get very tired and wet and there’s no comfort whatsoever. You do not even have a bunk each — you’re hot bunking. We have to have minimal kit as all the food for the leg has to be stored somewhere.”

She will consume 5,000 calories a day in order to maintain her energy levels and will complete six-hour watches followed by six to eight hours’ rest.

Miss Hirst said: “We’ll all be very, very tired all the time. When you are trying to sleep there’s other people working. It’s going to be noisy and you can’t really get away from it.”

To help raise funds, Miss Hirst is selling advertising space on a bespoke Henley T-shirt and is organising a round the world teddy bear race in which people are encouraged to take a bear on their travels and pass it on to someone else. The sponsor of the bear that travels the furthest will win a prize.

Miss Hirst is also holding a summer ball at Henley town hall on Saturday, September 7 from 7pm.

For more information, email tammysclipperproject@outlook.com

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