In the middle of the Atlantic: Ilford paramedic battling the elements in world’s longest yacht race
- Credit: Archant
Sailing the seven seas is a activity one might associate with bedraggled characters with wooden legs and hooks for hands.
But right now, somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is a 42-year-old paramedic from Ilford taking on the world’s longest yacht race.
Circumnavigating the globe, Susie Redhouse left London on September 1 as part of Derry-Londonderry-Doire crew, one of 12 vessels looking to claim first place when they arrive back in the capital in July next year.
She has almost no sailing experience, describing herself as a “complete novice” – but during the first gruelling, month-long leg to Rio she began to learn the ropes.
Life on deck can fall into a routine of sailing and sleep, says Susie. But the challenge is finding time to keep yourself sane.
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Speaking shortly after arriving in the Brazilian capital, she said: “We were at sea for exactly a month. Some people are still out there, we finished fifth out of the 12.
“Trying not to fall into the habit of just being on duty and sleeping is tough. Finding time to write a diary and talk to people is important.
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“We all have our tired moments and childish tantrums, but everyone is understanding because we’re all in the same position.”
The 53-strong crew work shifts, which are six hours long in the daytime and four hours at night.
Susie says sailing is just 10 per cent of her role on the boat, and with her paramedic background she is the designated medic on board.
Falls, infections and viruses have been common in the first month, with the worst accident to date occurring when a member of crew slipped on deck and cracked a number of his ribs.
“There’s pressure on me, but that’s my job,” explains Susie. “The scary thing is if someone gets hurt, I have to make the decision as to whether they can carry on or not. We have sacrificed a lot of money to be here, so to be involved in a decision that might stop their race is quite terrifying.”
Now finding her sea legs, Susie made the decision to travel the world as part of the Clipper Round The World race after seeing adverts on the Tube.
She worked constant overtime shifts to pay for the journey, which costs more than £30,000, and trained for more than two years – on top of her daily bike rides to and from work.
The hard work at home and on board, including six days spent stuck in the doldrums, was made worthwhile when the site of Rio’s coastline became visible last week.
She said: “Rio is pretty cool, I have to say. To sail in and see the iconic landscape was just incredible. There’s a real sense of freedom on board the ship, especially when you’re in the middle of the ocean and haven’t seen another boat for days. It’s nice not to have the everyday worries of money.
“When we reach land any money I spend is just for fun.”
The next leg will take Susie and her crew to Cape Town, before another stretch at sea will blow them into Sydney for Christmas.
•To track Susie’s progress on board Derry-Londonderry-Doire, visit clipperroundtheworld.com.