A ticket to adventure

- December 17, 2008

Alyson Murray will sail on two legs of the Clipper Round the World Race. (Danny Abriel Photo)

For quite awhile now I’ve been looking for an opportunity unlike any other: something that would allow me to step outside of my comfort zone, test my limits, meet new people and see a bit of the world.

I’m finding it all in the Clipper Round the World Race. 

Having learned over the summer that I’ve been accepted to sail on two of seven legs in the Clipper Round the World Race, I’m filled with anticipation and excitement. Based in the United Kingdom, Clipper Ventures enables people from all walks of life to experience both the exhilarating and harsh realities of ocean racing.

For me, the race is the opportunity of a lifetime. Part of the attraction is the chance to push myself to limits I don’t yet realize I am capable of, both physically and mentally. Also, seeing the camaraderie among crew members when they stopped over in Halifax during the 07-08 race was very inspiring. I will be racing, living and experiencing this adventure with teammates from all over the world. And, I’m looking forward to acting as an ambassador for the region and the country.

As exciting as this race is, I remain for the moment far from being a worldly yachtswoman. Having grown up in Bridgewater, N.S., I spent several years sailing dinghies out of my local yacht club, and later instructed during the summers. For the past three years, I have been studying at Dalhousie and living in Halifax. This year I’m continuing to work on my science degree in neuroscience and trying to balance the realities of being a student with race preparation and daydreams of far off seas. 

Over the course of three months I will race from the West coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, continuing up the eastern seaboard before crossing the Atlantic in the final leg of the race.

The race will most likely see me taking a semester off from my normal studies at the end of next year. However, I know that the learning curve that lies ahead will extend beyond any classroom I could find myself sitting in. The Clipper race is experiential learning in its purest form, completely hands-on and “in the field”—with the field being a world’s worth of oceans. The experience of living with a crew of 16 others and functioning in the rigorous conditions of yacht racing will teach me lessons that I truly feel I’d be unable to learn anywhere else. Because this is a race, the yachts are designed to maximize speed, minimize weight and utilize every space available. This leaves no room for luxuries and I’ll be living a life of minimalism, with a canvas bunk and duffel bag to see me through the race.

Although it may seem that the race is a ways off, not officially starting until this coming September, and with me not joining until April of 2010, my Clipper experience is well on its way. All crew members partaking in the Clipper Race must be highly trained, from safety to sail trim, navigation to meteorology. We all undergo a minimum of four training courses. My training is beginning later this month in southern England. I can’t wait to get out on the boat, and get a true sense of daily life onboard a 68-foot Clipper yacht. In the meantime, I’m working on fundraising and promotion, both to fund the race and support two very worthwhile causes: The Philip Green Memorial Trust (the official Clipper charity) and the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. 

It is difficult to sum up all the components of Clipper Round the World and convey the scale of my enthusiasm. I know I have a lot to learn in the coming months, possibly more than I realize, but I cannot wait to get started on this amazing adventure. 

LINK: Clipper Round the World


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