Clipper Departure Weekend

Guest post by Patrick Brien

The Clipper departure weekend had been in the diary for a long time, and the run-up to the big day finally arrived with excitement/apprehension/cocktails for all. While Michael and the twelve crews have spent the last few weeks working hard getting the boats ready for 11 months at sea, all us supporters had to do was turn up and wave.

We arrived in Liverpool on Friday evening and went along to Albert Dock to check out the atmosphere. The fleet was an impressive sight, smartly lined up in the dock with their pennants fluttering in the breeze and crew busying themselves with last minute preparations. Even two days before departure it was quite the tourist attraction, with big queues waiting to take tours on board. As we were with Michael he took us straight onto their boat for the grand tour without having to queue with the plebs public.


What follows are my impressions of Team Garmin’s home for the next 40,000 miles of sailing, and which can be summed up in one word: ‘cosy’. After negotiating the frankly treacherous steps down into the main under-deck area of the boat, the kitchen and seating area greets you. Special mention goes to the rotating cooker, where the crew’s beef wellingtons and baked alaskas (I’m guessing here) can happily cook on a level shelf in even the stormiest of seas. Also a mention to the sheer quantity of bananas they’ve packed. That’ll keep them happy for at least four days, until they all go brown. Further round from the kitchen are the bunks and toilets, and more storage up at the pointy end. With two teams of crew rotating so that they always have people up on deck, and therefore fewer bunks than crew, Michael is rotating bunk space (hot bunking?) with Nell, the team’s medic. We’ll find out in due course how that goes… good luck to her. GT, the skipper, has a little office in the back, and that’s the full tour. Like I said, cosy.

More last minute prep on Saturday followed, with poor Michael looking like he could do with a holiday, and we all went out for a celebratory dinner in the evening. A final selection of cocktails rounded up the evening and we dropped him back off at his boat ready for the early start in the morning (before heading to our comfy hotel beds).

Bright and early on race day the crews paraded around the dock and onto each of their boats in turn, to cheers from the fast-growing crowd. A ceremonial ‘slipping of the lines’ followed, and they motored out of Albert Dock into the holding pen of Canning Dock as the sun broke through. Here more supporters could shout, wave and take pictures of the crews nervously pacing around the decks, before the final move out onto the Mersey. We’d got a spot just next to the exit to the dock, and the atmosphere was one of celebration as each boat in turn was waved off, with their chosen theme song blasting out and pyrotechnics firing, the crew lined up on deck ready to race.

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Finally they were out on the Mersey and could get their sails up, and after one last parade up and down they were ready to go. A bit of start line jostling, the starting horn sounded, and they were off! A loop up and back down the Mersey saw Garmin fighting for the lead with Dare To Lead, closely followed by the other boats, before they all disappeared off down the sparkling waters into the open sea.

Next stop, Uruguay!


As before, Skipper and crew diaries from Garmin – written by Gaëtan and a random crew member – will appear here on Clipper’s website every day:

The Race Tracker, in which you can track our progress across the oceans every hour is here: – Team Garmin is the black boat!

Off to Uruguay tomorrow! 

And I could really do with a week off.

Level 4 training followed by a hectic prep week followed by a 5 day delivery passage followed by the further prep and events of Liverpool has not given a lot of time for sleeping – this is something I’m just going to have to get used to! 

I will try and update this blog when possible (although Clipper are having some satcoms issues at the moment from the supplier, which nobody is happy about) but you can also follow us in these ways – some of which I’ve added to the menu at the top of this page:

Skipper and crew diaries from Garmin – written by Gaëtan and a random crew member – will appear here on Clipper’s website every day:

The Race Tracker, in which you can track our progress across the oceans every hour is here: – Team Garmin is the black boat! 

For daily race updates by email from Clipper, sign up here:

I’ve just had a fantastic evening with a lot of my awesome family and my best friend Hazel, and I’m feeling a little tired and emotional (and also a little drunk). 

See you in Punta del Estes!

Leaving for Liverpool on Wednesday… 

Prep week is done! 

Skills have been learnt (covered eye splice): 

Boat has been branded (by the way, we are Team Garmin now instead of Team Gaëtan):

Winches have been disassembled and reassembled:

And we are (nearly) ready to set off on a race around the world. Still lots to do both on delivery and in Liverpool (my job is bosun, and I need more grease in the winch/grinder junction boxes and to whip/run/anti-chafe some more new halyards) but we are definitely getting there.

I’ll be in Liverpool from 14th to 20th August if anyone wants to come and visit, and you should totally donate to my UNICEF fundraising page

Gales in the Channel

Fourth (and last) week of training just completed in the English Channel. After various drills and exercises, and night sails and anchoring, and some practice race starts, we took part in a race to France and back with the other 11 boats in the fleet. 

Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. An almost-gale of southwesterly wind gusting up to 50 knots, combined with a wind over tide situation off the headlands of St Catherine’s and St Albans’s Head, gave some very short and very large seas, and none of the boats actually sailed the whole course (though five boats, including us, finished under engine).

Long story short, I now have a very large bruise and some muscle damage on my upper thigh, which is causing a bit of a limp and difficulty raising that leg. Should be healed in a few days, first (and hopefully last) sailing injury of this trip! 

Now we’re stuck in to prep week, overhauling and checking and repairing and improving and customizing so many bits of the boat – Jerry here fitting anti-slip tape in the saloon. 

We leave for Liverpool on boat delivery on Wednesday 9th August, and will be there between 14th and 20th if anyone wants to come visit!