Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures
JOIN THE RACE JOIN THE 2019-20 RACE MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL SOUVENIR RACE MAGAZINE Check out the latest photo galleries from The Clipper Race
UNICEF ABOUT UNICEF

A Q&A with Wendy Tuck about Leg 5 of the Clipper Round The World Race

by David Schmidt 23 Jan 2018 08:00 PST January 29, 2018
Line honours for Sanya Serenity Coast in Clipper Race Leg 1 © onEdition

Sailing offshore is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures and highest pursuits offered by our sport. Trouble is, working your way into the close-knit fraternity of offshore racers can be a tough ask, especially if you are high on ambition but shy on experience and/or the ability to build a team ground up (read: a massive war chest). Enter the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which was founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the winner of the 1968/1969 Golden Globe Race and the first person to sail singlehanded around the world (a feat that-at the time-was akin to a NASA moonshot in terms of commitment level), as a way for greenhorn sailors to learn the ropes of offshore sailing from a trusted mentor and skipper.

Sailors learn their craft in a series of pre-race training seminars and-once the race begins-aboard a fleet of 11 identical Tony Castro-designed 70 footers that the race uses to circumnavigate via a series of stage races that go from port to port, giving sailors the chance to see the world whilst allowing the race to expose myriad visitors to the possibility of offshore sailing.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race left the UK on Sunday, August 20, 2017 and is now in Airlie Beach, Australia, preparing for a 5,954-nautical-mile leg that will stretch up to Qingdao, China, crossing the equator and (eventually) giving teams an opportunity to hone their upwind sail-trimming skills. Leg 5 is actually carved into two races, the first from Airlie Beach to Hainan Island and the city of Sanya, then from Sanya to Qingdao, which was home to the sailing portion of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Given the race’s next stop, Sanya Serenity Coast, which is skippered by Wendy “Wendo” Tuck (52; AUS), caught our eye. Wendo’s team is currently topping the leaderboard, and while each squad determines how much emphasis to place on hardcore racing versus learning seamanship and offshore-sailing skills, the simple reality is that a team can’t sail their way to the pole position if they can’t sail well together, meaning that Tuck has worked hard and realized great results during this lap.

Impressively, this is Tuck’s second time through as a Clipper Race skipper (she served in the same role during the 2015/2016 race), and she has also racked up eleven Sydney-Hobart Races, including the 2017 race when she skippered Sanya Serenity Coast across the finishing line to win the Jane Tate Memorial Trophy for the first female skipper across the finishing line. (N.B., the Clipper Race times their arrival in Australia to allow teams to participate in this fabled Southern Hemisphere ocean contest.)

I caught up with Tuck via email, to learn more about her team’s ongoing adventure.

What do you see as the toughest bits of sailing in this next leg, from a tactical perspective?

It will be a tough leg as we go through so many different weather patterns and, of course, the Equator when things can get very fruity very quickly with squalls around and then suddenly no breeze.

The main tactical decisions will be how far off the islands we go.

What about from a crew comfort and team-building perspective—what do you see as the highest hurdles and can these be used to help the group bond together?

It does work that way - everyone bonds over the temperature issues.

The hardest is the heat, the boats are incredibly hot down below and it just rains condensation, but everyone looks out for each other by watching out for each other’s water intake, making sure that everyone has sunscreen on, all that kind of stuff.

On the Sydney to Hobart Race when we had a small amount of upwind sailing we all talked about how the hell did we put up with eleven days of upwind on Leg 4 so, yes, when you look back on what you’ve been through, you realize that you have bonded over the unpleasant experiences.

The welcome that the sailors will likely see in Sanya has become legendary in the sailing world—will this be a tool that you will use to help some of your crew get through the tough and unpleasant bits of the next Leg (say, the expected upwind work)?

Absolutely, we have had so much support from Sanya along the way, so everyone wants to arrive in a good position.

Are you and your crew happy to be leaving the Southern Ocean after so much high-latitude sailing, or did you and your team learn to love the full-on sailing conditions down south?

It will be sad to not sail in the Southern Ocean again, it’s always sad leaving the Southern Hemisphere-we loved it down there and not many people get to sail there, so we are very lucky.

When you look back on the Clipper 2017-18 Race to date, what are your favorite memories and what makes these memories stand out compared to all the amazing other sailing/miles that you’ve done with the Clipper Race so far this year?

Seeing my crew grow in confidence and ability. The guys who know how to sail are sharing their knowledge, so we all improving as one team.

Finally, is there anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

I just love being out on the ocean and all the competitiveness of it all - the finishes are just getting closer and closer all the time, so you can’t switch off or make one mistake.

Related Articles

The bookies may, or may not be happy
Mark Richards had a very short message: We are 100% there Mark Richards had a very short message for everyone. “It was very cool to watch our crew nurse the boat into port. We now have all the right resources working on the repairs. We are 100% there for the race.” Posted on 17 Nov
Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea on 49erFX sailing
Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea on their 49erFX campaign for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics I checked in with Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, via email, about their campaign to represent the USA in 49erFX at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Posted on 13 Nov
Debriefing the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt While the winds were much lighter than average for this weekend's Round the County Race here in the Pacific Northwest, conditions were significantly more boisterous in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre. Posted on 12 Nov
Shredded Cabbage
It's a handy ingredient for dim sims, coleslaw, burritos, soups, and a bunch of other dishes It's a handy ingredient for dim sims, coleslaw, burritos, soups, and a bunch of other dishes. It is not so flash when it comes to ocean racing, however. Sail makers often refer to them as CVDs, or Commercially Viable Days... Posted on 10 Nov
Mark Light on the Clipper Round The World Race
An interview with Mark Light about the 2019/2020 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race I checked in with Mark Light, race director of the Clipper Round The World Race, via email, to learn more about this demanding, pay-to-play race-cum-adventure experience.  Posted on 7 Nov
Get on the Water with Borrow a Boat
We caught up with Matt Ovenden about their plans to make getting out on the water accessible to all We caught up with Matt Ovenden, founder of BorrowaBoat.com, recent sponsors of Southampton Boat Show and industry innovators, about their plans to make getting out on the water accessible to all. Posted on 7 Nov
Keith Whittemore on winning the 2019 J/24 Worlds
An interview with Keith Whittemore about winning the 2019 J/24 Worlds I checked in with Keith Whittemore, 2019 J/24 World Champion skipper, via email, to learn more about his team's proud win in this highly competitive class. Posted on 6 Nov
TJV drama, Mini Transat update, Paris 2024 updates
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt If you're an ocean-racing junkie, November can be a thirsty month in North America. Fortunately, this year's fix comes in the form of the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre, which involves doublehanded racing aboard IMOCA 60s, Multi 50s and Class 40s. Posted on 5 Nov
Shirley Robertson on her new sailing podcast
An interview with Shirley Robertson about her new Sailing Podcast I checked in with Shirley Robertson, host of Shirley Robertson's Sailing Podcast, via email, to learn more about her great podcast, and the kind of stories that motivate her as a world-class, multi-media sailing journalist. Posted on 5 Nov
It's a beautiful world
So yes if you are old enough, dust off your flowerpot hats, and sing away in memory of Devo So yes if you are old enough, dust off your flowerpot hats, and sing away in memory of Devo. Of course if you are not old enough to remember the new wave, post-punk, alternative, synth pop, rock band, you could be wondering why is he devastated. I'm not. Posted on 3 Nov
MBW newsletters (top)