Blog | Scout making waves on Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race: Part V

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George

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 taking on the whole 40,000-mile adventure.

George is writing a regular blog for the Scouts as he journeys around the world. In his fifth instalment, George battles stormy weather as the crew race across the Pacific Ocean.

Like royalty

The Pacific Ocean is the leg that I have been mentally preparing for since leaving London all those months ago. Being a member of the Qingdao crew while visiting Qingdao was very special – we were treated like royalty. We left Qingdao with huge crowds cheering and wishing us well for the race. As we left, the fog came down, which delayed our race start. Soon, though, the winds picked up and we were off.

This was the sailing I had been looking forward to; we were able to hold a good course and speed in strong winds and big swells. Overnight, we overtook several cargo vessels. I wonder what they thought seeing a sailing boat zoom past them late at night!

In that 24-hour period, we moved up from 11th place to near top of the fleet. Helming in these conditions was like having a boxing match with the wheel but we travelled over 300 miles in a 24-hour period.

Stormy progress

We passed through the islands, which mark the beginning of the Pacific Ocean, and then the lightning started. I have never seen anything like it: forked, sheet and complete white-out lightning where you couldn’t see anything. Then there was a dull thud and acrid smoke coming from the navigation station – we had been struck by lightning and it had taken all our navigation and e-mail systems down!  We had no lights and we had to use our head torches to be able to move around the boat, but no one was hurt and spirits were high.

Race to San Francisco

The race then settled down into tactics; trying to gain miles on the leading boats was like playing snakes and ladders as we went up and down places in the race. We went through the International Date Line on 30 March so had a second chance to wish our mothers Happy Mother’s Day as we had another 30 March!

A grey whale came to have a look at the boat, swam underneath it and then flicked his tail to say goodbye as he swam away, giving everyone on deck a good soaking.

As we came closer to San Francisco the weather was much calmer, but while everyone was doing their best, we just did not seem to be moving as quickly as other boats in the fleet. Hitting wind holes near the end made us even more determined to finish.

We finally sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and I saw my parents waiting to see me: it made me incredibly proud to have crossed the largest ocean in the world.

Check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of George’s blog. Find out more about the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Yacht Race and monitor the race progress.

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