What does CrossFit and Ocean Racing have in common? 

Apart from perseverance, courage, strength, sacrifice, repetition, sweat, tears, respect, fun and team work to mention a few, there is also me, Catherine Johnson, a new addition to CrossFit at Tamworth

In May of 2019 I saw the Clipper Race on BT Sport. It is the only sailing event that supports amateur sailors and those with no previous sailing experience to undertake a record breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht. I had been looking for a challenge and this one grabbed my imagination. www.clipperroundtheworld.com/about/about-the-race

Having been accepted onto the programme I signed on for 3 out of the 8 legs. I sail round the coast of Australia for 20 days, up to the Philippines and China for 34 days and finally across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle for 37 days. So that’s December 2019 – April 2020 accounted for.

In June I headed off to Gosport to join 10 other newbies on our first week-long training course. The training programme is 4 one week-long courses each of which has a pass/fail assessment. My first week was a tough one testing my personal endurance and my ability to remember and implement the evolutions required, for example to hoist the main sail and reef sails. By the end of the course I had not reached the standard required to move onto the next level of training.

The Clipper Team are committed to helping trainees develop to their full potential and so offered me the opportunity to repeat the training week. Apart from the significant dent to my personal pride I was eager to ensure my skills were built on a strong foundation and I had the confidence to move forward through the programme. 

But more importantly I knew I needed to improve my personal fitness and that’s when I discovered CrossFit in Tamworth. Mark and Beth couldn’t have been more helpful in sharing their knowledge and encouraging improved performances at each session. I mainly attended sweat class / conditioning classes and enjoy the friendly competition and fellowship as everyone strived for physical improvement. 

There is no doubt that CrossFit and the tuition I received made a significant difference not just to my physical wellbeing but my confidence, flexibility and strength. By the time I returned for my next Clipper training course CrossFit had made me fitter, leaner and more adaptable to the challenge ahead. 

Repeating the Clipper course was the best decision I could have made.  With the support of my new crew I gained confidence and competence in my sailing ability. I didn’t worry about my fitness levels as CrossFit’s high intensity program and aerobic exercises made living and moving about the yacht much easier. 

As I rolled into my second Clipper course, we had a day on ‘Survival at Sea’. We were told of the many reasons and ways people die at sea then into a swimming pool to use the lift raft. I very quickly concluded that the last place to be was in a lift raft. For the rest of the week we ran a watch system of 6 hours on, 6 hours off during the day then changing every 4 hours during the night. It was really tough getting out of a warm sleeping bag at 0400 to stand on a cold deck. Sea sickness caught up with me not in rough water but in calm water. Who gets seasick in calm water?   

My next Clipper course is in November with a 2-day break before my last week finishing on 9 December. I fly to Perth in Australia on 12 December to join my crew in Freemantle and continue a journey of a lifetime. 

This is my yacht Punta Del Este, named for the sponsoring port in Uruguay. There is lots of information about all the racing yachts, skippers and crews on the Clipper Race website. 

If you want to follow the action the race viewer shows the position of the yachts, mine is the yellow boat www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings

I have started a blog couch potato to ocean racer if you would like to follow me https://www.couchpotatotooceanracer.com/

The chosen charity for Clipper is UNICEF who support children across the globe www.unicef.org.uk and each crew members raises £500 to add to the Clipper contribution.

I have an account with https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cath-johnson1 if you wold like to contribute.

I have also chosen a second charity the Hollie Gazzard Trust. The Trust was created following the murder of 20-year-old Hollie Gazzard in 2014 by an ex-partner. As a response to this terribly tragic event Hollie’s parents and sister set up the Trust to change the lives of young people through partnerships in communities. Check out the website as there is lots of information for adults as well as young people  holliegazzard.org

The team developed Hollie Guard which turns your smartphone into a personal safety device. In danger? Shake your phone or tap the screen to generate an alert. Your location and audio/video evidence will automatically be sent to your emergency contacts who can take action to help you quickly. It is fantastic safety tool for lone workers, runners or cyclists, extra protection when travelling alone and can be used for any age group  https://hollieguard.com/

Please promote Hollie Guard to your friends and family as it is very adaptable to suit many different circumstances. The App. is free but I encourage you to make a donation via my profile on the charity website 

https://holliegazzard.charitycheckout.co.uk/pf/catherine-johnson

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