Sailing and Cycling from China to London

Published on March 23rd, 2016

A British travel writer is preparing to embark on a 133 day, 15,000 mile sail and cycle challenge from China to London, via the USA, the equivalent of travelling almost half way round the world.

Simon Parker, 28, from Oxford, who first started sailing just six months ago and has never cycled more than 1,000 miles before, will start with a race across the Pacific – the largest expanse of water on the planet – in the ultimate endurance challenge, the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, from Qingdao, China, to Seattle, USA.

Not content with that achievement alone, Simon will then cycle 4,000 miles across the USA as the Clipper Race fleet continues around America to New York. He will be relying on his own self-motivation to complete 80-100 miles a day, solo for six weeks.

Once in NYC, Simon will re-join his Clipper Race team and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In his final challenges, he will cycle race the yachts from Northern Ireland to Holland, then sail to London in a 36 hour sprint to the Clipper Race Finish at Tower Bridge on 30 July.

On what has motivated him to take on this challenge, Simon said: “People may think I’m crazy for attempting this, and maybe I am a little, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw it as an amazing opportunity for a unique travel challenge.

“The world is full of people who travel and compete in endurance challenges which seem to get harder and more epic all the time. I haven’t heard of this particular challenge ever being attempted before though. I want to use my experience to examine the human psyche and attempt to learn more about what drives us to constantly extend our limits, using myself as the subject.”

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, established by legendary British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the planet in 1968-69, is the only event of its kind which trains amateurs like Simon to race across the world’s oceans. Forty per cent of Clipper Race crew, who come from all walks of life, have never sailed before they sign up and start their extensive training.

The idea for Simon’s sail and cycle challenge came after he had already signed up to sail across the Pacific Ocean, the longest leg of the 11-month, 40,000 nautical mile Clipper Race. He explains:

“Before I signed up and started my Clipper Race training, like many of my crew mates, I had never sailed before. At first the idea of sailing across the world’s biggest ocean was a daunting enough task, but as the training went on, I began to think about creating a greater challenge for myself within the Clipper Race journey, and decided to use the race route to create a test for myself within the race.”

He adds that at times the trip will be grim. The Clipper Race sees competitors encounter extreme conditions from hurricanes, tornadoes and icebergs to waves the size of houses and extreme heat in the tropics during the 40,000 nautical mile, 11-month long odyssey.

Only 3,300 people have completed the Clipper Race over nine editions since its inception in 1995, and less people have circumnavigated the world than have climbed Mount Everest.

Simon adds: “It will be a real social experiment for me at sea for a month surviving in a small capsule with no privacy or luxury while crossing the world’s largest ocean and enduring some of Mother Nature’s most extreme conditions.

“I will then be cycling through America encountering everything from snow to mountains and potential danger such as bears. I won’t have much kit apart from a tent and stove and I have a small budget, and am hoping people will help me along the way with accommodation, which will be an interesting social experiment in itself to explore,” Simon added.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston wished Simon luck with his challenge, adding: “I came up with the concept of the Clipper Race to allow ordinary people to explore their adventurous side and push their limits to achieve something extraordinary.
“I look forward to hearing what Simon finds out about himself and others during the challenge.”

Simon will fly out from the UK on March 14 to join his crew in Qingdao. The race across the Pacific Ocean starts on March 20. Follow Simon’s journey on Facebook and Twitter.

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Report by event media.

Background: The 40,000 mile Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race began in London, UK on August 30 for the fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. The series is divided into 16 individual races, with the team with the best cumulative score winning the Clipper Race Trophy. Each team is led by a professional skipper with an all-amateur crew.

The fleet departed on January 18 from Whitsundays, Australia for the two-part 6,985 mile course that stops in Da Nang, Vietnam before restarting on February 27 and continuing to Qingdao, China.

The ports along the race route are Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Albany, Sydney, Hobart and Airlie Beach, Australia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Qingdao, China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York, USA; Derry-Londonderry, Ireland; and Den Helder, Netherlands before returning to London by late July.


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