Michelle Porter is PA to three directors at Young & Rubicam group; this summer she is taking part in the challenging Clipper round-the-world yacht race.
“Another crazy month goes by, now this race is more a reality and not so much the distant dream that I once signed up for. 11 May was a monumental day for all the crew taking on the 40,000-mile journey around the world, a bit like those school scenarios that fill you with dread, when you wonder if you’ll ever be picked for the team.
“One by one, 12 skippers took to the stage and the roll call of crew names was possibly one of the most exciting but gut-wrenching moments of my life. Finally, Sean McCarter, with his lovely Irish accent, said “Michelle Porter” – what a moment that was, with the Guildhall filled to the brim with Clipper crew and their friends and family, I heard my mum clap fit to burst, so relieved that I had been picked.
“From this day on, I knew Sean would be the man to ensure my crew and I make it round the world safely; since the majority has no sailing experience other than the training that Clipper offers, one huge task lies ahead of him. All 12 skippers are special human beings in my books – taking 20 novice sailors out into the world’s harshest oceans and having little idea as to how any of them will react is a massive responsibility, but Sean takes it in his stride and is ready to embrace the journey ahead.
“For now this 55-strong crew, better known as “Team Sean”, patiently waits for the race organisers to announce the boat sponsor, something that could happen any day between now and the start of the race. Remarkably, our race campaign is in full swing, momentum is building and some amazing ideas on how to turn these individuals into a strong racing team are landing in the inbox on a daily basis.
“Having been appointed as Chief of Staff, I need to ensure our skipper is organised at all times. Transferring skills from my role within the agency on to the boat could actually keep us in a podium position, as it would seem it’s not all about racing, but tactics count too.
“With the countdown now on, I find my life is consumed by the race. Boris Johnson has announced that London will host the start and finish of the event, meaning that 1 September will see 12, 70-foot racing yachts leave St Katherine’s Dock followed by a flotilla of spectator boats. If you loved the atmosphere of our capital when the Olympics were here last year, then make sure you save the date and come down to wave us off.”