Eric from SPS Completes Pacific Leg of Clipper Race

18 Jun 2018

SPS supported Senior Project Manager Eric Froggatt to take part in the 2017-2018 Clipper Round the World Sailing Race. The race takes 12 matched 70 foot racing yachts around the world in 8 legs taking one year and Eric took on the challenge of the Pacific Leg, “the Big One” in April. Here Eric chats to us about his high-seas adventure.

What made you want to do it?

Turning 50 recently probably had something to do with it. Plus I like adventure and challenges, which this certainly provided!

Which crew were you with and how did you do?

I was part of the crew “Visit Seattle”. We came 8th in the race which was what it was! We were leading early on, but hit a wind hole and everyone else saw that and went a different route – that’s sailing!

What was life like aboard?

Strange at first, but we ran a watch system 4 or 6 hours on then 4 or 6 hours off. It took a few days to settle in, but then the watch becomes quite routine.

What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

The Crossing was 5,800 nautical miles, about 5,000 in the open North Pacific, so we knew this would take around 25-30 days and this would mean about 4 to 5 weather cycles. At that time of year and the northerly latitude meant we had a high chance of some big weather.  One storm reached Beaufort scale 12 (Hurricane) Force with wind gusts over 100 knots and waves over 14 metres – which the Met Office describe as “Phenomenal”. So that was a challenge!

The storm lasted about 12 hours, but for 2 days before and a week after the seas was big. The hard bit is that you don’t know, for sure, if the storm has peaked, so you are wondering if the conditions you are in are going to get even tougher?

What did you learn about yourself?

During the height of the storm, at the real intense moment of a huge gust of wind, whilst I was on deck, hanging on, at about 2am, I realised what was REALLY important to me. Without that real threat and pressure I don’t think you can be SURE you know the answer to that fundamental question, but I do now, which is a good feeling.

What did you most enjoy about the journey?

Night Skies with five times the number of stars I’ve ever seen before. Milky Way clearly visible. I’m also looking forward to seeing the race finish in Liverpool, July 28th – Big Party!

How did you cope with the “cabin fever” of 31 days at sea?

No problem. Each bunk has a “Lee Cloth” which you tie-up to stop yourself falling out during rough weather. With that up your bunk becomes quite enclosed and you zone out the people traffic going past all the time.

Did you get scared at all?

Not scared, but we knew during the big storm that this was serious stuff and everyone needed to be fully focused and aware of what was happening, but we were well trained and in a boat designed for those conditions.

How did you feel when you finally reached Seattle?

Pretty emotional to be honest. End of a long hard trip and seeing my wife in amongst hundreds of supporters and making eye-contact was very special.

Have you any other voyages planned for the future?

Certainly, though not sure exactly what yet?