Jerry Stokes, managing director for employment at the Manchester based Growth Company is preparing himself for the challenge of a lifetime, when he takes part in the bi-annual round the world Clipper Race. The race, which was the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnson covers 40,000 nautical miles in 72 foot ocean racing yachts.
Divided into eight legs, participants can choose whether to complete the full circumnavigation, or select individual legs. It’s the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of 12 identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper to safely guide the crew.
Jerry had never sailed before applying to join the race. He said: “Two years ago, I took part in a trek across the Sahara for charity, and although it was tough going, I really enjoyed the challenge, and being part of a team that had to work together for a common purpose. When I heard about the Clipper Race, I discussed it with my brother in law, Andy Schofield, and we decided to go for it.”
Jerry will be completing the first leg of the race, which starts on 20th August in Liverpool, and is expected to arrive in Punta del Este in Uruguay about 35 days later. Then, next June, Jerry will rejoin the crew on the last leg of the race from New York back to Liverpool, via Derry in Northern Ireland, which will take around 20 days.
Jerry said: “We’ve had to do four full weeks’ training for the event, and it’s been the most physically demanding thing I’ve done. Conditions on the yachts are very basic, and there are no showers, so we’ll be happy to get to Uruguay for a hot bath, and some food that isn’t out of a tin! During the training, I slipped when the boat suddenly changed course and cracked two ribs, so it’s certainly no pleasure cruise, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge and testing myself both physically and psychologically under extreme conditions.
“The crew members come from all over the world, and from all kinds of backgrounds. Their ages range from 18 to over 70, and that’s part of the attraction, working alongside such a diverse group of people. Although I’m not an experienced sailor, I’m looking forward to the racing element of the challenge. There’s no prescribed route, and the skippers of each yacht will have their own strategies and tactics to try to gain an advantage.
“By taking part in the race, I’m hoping to raise a significant amount of money for Unicef, the internationally recognised charity that helps children in danger everywhere, and if anyone would like to support this great cause, they can contribute here.