Although his 11-month voyage around the world may have ended just a few weeks ago, local sailor James Macfee has a lifetime of memories as part of the 2017/2018 ‘Clipper Round The World’ race.
“Obviously after 11 months, there’s a lot of stories and a lot to tell you. It was a boat of about 24 people on it, and I was one of only a few, one of only eight on our boat, who went all the way around the world.”
The course was extensive, as twelve 70-foot yachts raced 46,000 nautical miles made up of 8 legs and 13 races starting in Liverpool, England. Yachts began by sailing down the Atlantic Ocean, then across the Southern Ocean to Eastern Australia, then up and across the Pacific Ocean, finishing back on the Atlantic in Liverpool. Macfee said it was an adventure like no other.
“You’ve got some of us crossing the equator for the first time. Then there were times where I felt like Sanka from Cool Runnings with every item I owned inside of the dry suit and still being cold.”
As one just one of eight sailors on ‘Liverpool 2018’ to complete the entire voyage his responsibilities grew quickly.
“It was very hard work at times. I was fortunate, or unfortunate, to asked to be one of the watch leaders on the boat, kind of like a Skipper’s number two.”
As Liverpool 2018 voyaged on, tensions grew. Something Macfee was now tasked with managing.
“That added a lot of pressure on me, but it was great for my experience. You’re there trying to motivate them saying ‘let’s go faster’ and coaching them to trim the sails, and at times solving problems, stopping people from arguing too much.”
In total, 53 sailors sailed made up Macfee’s team, something he said was a welcome change.
“I found it to be for the best. Fresh conversation when you spend our first stretch 35 days at sea coming down the Atlantic. By the end of that, you were ready to have a few different topics on conversation.”
“In the 6th leg, Macfee’s team played the ‘Joker Card’, hoping to double their points sailing from China to Seattle. With a group of experienced sailors joining the team, they were hoping to take a leap up the standings from their bottom four position.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work, so well mostly because we took a conservative approach.”
In the end, Liverpool 2018 placed 9th overall. This sailor, however, is not looking back.