Chasing the Albatross

My adventure in search of a bird by David Lawson



0 Saturday 28th July – Clipper Ocean Racing….done!

  • by David Lawson
  • 28-07-2018


Our final berth….Albert Dock, Liverpool (with Nigel Alexander and David Kemp)



Clipper Racing….done! That’s me 2nd from the bow (courtesy of Tony Hopwood)



PSP in full flight down the Mersey…..that’s me waving at the bow.

So after personally sailing a total of 18,000 ocean miles my adventure in search of an bird, ‘Chasing the Albatross’ has finally come to an end. The bubble we have all been living in during our training and racing over the last 2 years has been well and truly burst. We’re ‘done’…and the 2017/18 edition of this race is ‘done’ with us. A few brave souls will help to return the boats from Liverpool back to Gosport and then the dance will start again for the next edition…the 2019/20 race.

For me the most thrilling part of this last Leg was the final 2 hours and 20 mile race up the Mersey. It was worth the whole of the cost of this last Leg.With the Skippers helming this really was all about the adrenaline rush and ego needed to be first over the line.

We didn’t get the best of the Le Mans start. With a very decent breeze and full mainsail, staysail and Yankee 3 up we were pretty well heeled over to start with. No sail changes were allowed for the first 10 minutes. With all the crew working pre-allocated positions I found myself on the bow helping Fiona to hank on a Yankee 1 for a racing headsail change.

Now I’ve been on the bow many times and normally the helm will bear away a little to help those on the bow out. Not today. This was racing at its very best….full on!

So with water crashing over the bow I was soon soaked on the outside and inside my foulies. I can only liken it to being drowned…slowly! Between bouts of gasping for air and wiping the salt water out of my eyes, we somehow struggled to get the Yankee 1 hanked on to the forestay. Now that was physical and I certainly felt every one of my 57 years!

The it was down with the Yankee 3 and up with the Yankee 1. Pulling a sail down and un-hanking it when the boat is racing and the sail is full of wind is really hard work. Those 57 years really weren’t helping…but somehow we did it.

And now the boat is really heeled over. We have water rushing along the side and up into the cockpit area.

Other boats are struggling with the wind and sail plan but none of the Skippers are giving an inch. This really is yacht racing at its best….on the edge and extreme. How Matt is holding this on the helm…God only knows. I’m sure none of us could manage to helm at this extreme level.

As the race progresses we are slowly reeling in the others….but now all that sail plan is working against us, so it’s down with the Yankee 1. Here we go, another physical fight with a sail in full flight…but it’s done, the sail is finally down, we reduce the heel of the boat in the water and with just the main and the staysail up we’re actually sailing slightly flatter but faster!

However, we’re quickly running out of width of river to sail in. Other boats are forced to tack before they run out of room and so do we. That previous tacking practice comes in handy and we do an excellent job. We’re up to 2nd in this final ‘fling’ up the Mersey.

And there it is…we finish 2nd. We’re all exhausted and yet very elated and with that we know that PSP Logistics will have an overall finish position of 5th out of the 11 boats who have circumnavigated the globe over the past 11 months. Not quite the podium position we were hoping for, but very respectable nonetheless.

That was a great adrenaline rush to finish with and a very fitting end to this adventure. Now it’s time for a race end beer, family, friends and talking about what has been a very special time in my life.

How will I capture my final thoughts. Well that might take a few days as I let it all sink in, but I’ll give it my best…stay tuned!

If you feel inclined to help me to raise some funds for my chosen charity here is the link: