What Motivates a Clipper Round the World Race Sailor?

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What inspires an amateur sailor to take on the grueling Clipper Round the World Race?

We get some insight from San Francisco-based Jason Chan…

jason chan, clipper race

jason on a clipper race training sail, photo: clipper race

Jason first heard about the race through a random encounter with a Clipper Race crew member at a wine bar on New Year’s Eve. He began to research the race and was immediately hooked on the idea of crossing an ocean as part of a racing team.

Since then, Jason has completed two of the four levels of Clipper Race training in preparation for his race across the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa. Find out why Jason is considering upping his challenge and taking on another ocean as part of his Clipper Race adventure.

Name: Jason Chan
Age: 36
Nationality: Canadian

Lives: San Francisco
Occupation: Consultant
Signed up for: Clipper 2015-16 Race, Leg 2

What led you to sign up for the Clipper Race? A few months after hearing about race, I learned that the fleet would arrive in San Francisco after crossing the Pacific Ocean. I attended one of the crew recruitment talks while the fleet was in town and was blown away by the presentation and the stories from the crew members.

clipper fleet in san francisco, photo: abner kingman/clipper race

clipper fleet passing the golden gate during the san francisco stopover, photo: abner kingman/clipper race

Admittedly, I was shaking with excitement during the entire presentation at the thought of racing across the major oceans in every condition imaginable. It made me want to do it even more but I still felt it was a bit out of reach.

During the recruitment presentation, I won one of three raffle drawings to attend a day sail on board one of the Clipper 70 yachts. It was at that point that I felt the stars were starting to align.

It was one of the most exhilarating sailing experiences I’ve had up to that point and was convinced that the Clipper Race wouldn’t just be something I wanted to follow – I wanted to experience it.


the sleek clipper 70 designed by naval architect tony castro, photo: clipper race

What made you sign up for Leg 2?
The decision at the time was based primarily on the duration of the leg and the countries involved. It was an opportunity for me to visit two countries I’ve yet to visit and an opportunity to make an ocean crossing in a shorter amount of time. Now, crossing the South Atlantic Ocean is even more appealing knowing that I’ll be surfing down long, rolling swells and potentially sailing into the infamous Roaring Forties.

After having completed half the required training, learning more about the different legs, feeling slightly peer pressured by crew mates, and getting more and more excited about the race, I’m now considering adding on another ocean. It could be Leg 3 across the Southern Ocean or Leg 6 across the Pacific Ocean to make it back home to the US West Coast.


‘being on a clipper yacht is just such an amazing experience’ says jason, photo: clipper race

What has been the highlight of your Clipper Race experience so far?
The sailing is obviously fantastic, regardless of weather conditions. Being on a Clipper Race yacht and sailing around the English Channel is just an amazing experience.

The highlight is definitely the friendships I’ve made along the way. It’s amazing the type of bonds you build with your crew mates while sailing through the night in pitch darkness, seeing the sun rise and set, living in a confined space, being exposed to unpleasant conditions, getting sea sick, and being sleep deprived.

It’s those people who’ll keep you going during training as well as before and after it. The Clipper Race experience wouldn’t be complete without those bonds and you come away with knowing there’s an experience that only a small group of individuals would be able to share.

What have you found the most challenging so far?
Not being able to consistently train on a Clipper Race yacht and there being a significant amount of time between my training courses are the most challenging parts of preparing. Once you’re off the boat, it’s up to you to keep up with sailing and the preparation but it’s nowhere close to being at sea on a Clipper Race yacht and training with your fellow crew mates.

jason chan, clipper round the world race

jason is considering upping his challenge by taking on another ocean, photo: clipper race

What do your family and friends think about you doing the race?
My friends and family have all been very supportive. They are excited for me and have a keen interest in my progress. There are of course some concerns for my safety but I think that’s a normal reaction considering what any Clipper Race crew member will undertake isn’t exactly typical for most people. This is no doubt only the beginning of my ocean sailing career and I look forward to sharing my experiences with them.

Crew members can complete Levels 1 to 3 of the four compulsory courses at the Clipper Race Sydney base right through to June 2015, or all levels at the UK training centre in Gosport, Hampshire.

The race is now 85 per cent full with limited availability. If you would like to join Jason, contact Clipper Race here.

This article originally appeared in the Clipper Race’s Future Crew Friday feature. The Clipper Race is the only one where organizers supply the fleet of 12 identical, 70-ft, racing yachts, each sponsored by a brand, led by professional skippers and manned by sailors of all experience levels and walks of life.

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