Blog | Scout making waves on Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race: Part I
Scout volunteer George Bayles, 19, of 2nd South Petherton is tackling the biggest challenge of his life: the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race. Aboard the Qingdao yacht, he’s one of a 10-strong crew who’ll be tackling the whole 40,000-mile adventure.
George will be writing a regular blog for the Scouts as he journeys around the world. In the first instalment he tells us about leaving the UK, via France on the first leg to Rio, Brazil – and all the excitement and camaraderie of the Clipper Race.
I wanted a totally different experience away from the usual gap year and I thought it was a better way to spend a year learning new skills. I’m practical and not very academic so this is a great way for me to work towards a career in the marine industry.
It feels very natural for me to be on the sea – it's very calm and peaceful and I'm rocked to sleep at night – very soothing.
I'm quite an entertainer on board so I like to be witty and keep morale up – we do have a lot of banter.
It's great to be in the Qingdao team as I am learning a lot about Chinese culture and one of our crew members, Vicky Song, is teaching us Mandarin.
I have done one Mother Watch duty so far and it was exhausting! From 6am to 10.30pm I was constantly making teas and coffees and was up and down the steps serving them. We also made bread which was fun – we helped it rise by putting it in the warm engine room.
The first race to France was quite a frustrating one as we kept falling into wind holes. At the finish, it was so foggy and we could hear the fog horns from the other boats but couldn’t see them, which was very eerie. Great Britain [another yacht in the race] had been behind us, then in the last 20 minutes they crept up and overtook. We didn’t see them gybe [a sailing manoeuvre] and that gave them the edge as they managed to sail ahead and win by 0.07 miles.
Everyone was very tense and we were trimming the spinnaker downwind the whole time.
We thought we'd finished fifth, so were elated to hear we'd actually finished third and had secured a podium place. There was loads of cheering and chanting of our Qingdao song.
I’m really excited about the race to Rio; the longest voyage at sea I've ever done before is a week. This race will have it all – the Bay of Biscay can be notoriously rough, then there will be the Doldrums and crossing the Equator before trying to get the best winds into Rio.
During the race to France, it was amazing to put everything we'd learned during training into practice and I enjoyed constantly studying the navigation station to see what everyone else was doing. I have learned so much about tactics already and can’t wait to carry on learning as we go round the world!