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.
“If anyone had said to me when I signed up for the Clipper round-the-world yacht race that I would be living and breathing it so many months before we set off, I would never have believed them. The countdown has now begun in earnest: on Sunday 1 September, 12 identical 70-foot yachts will leave a port in the south of England to start the 40,000-mile journey.
“Just a few weeks ago the “Dynamic Dozen” was announced; this is an elite group of 12 professional skippers who will lead the 650 amateur sailors on the world’s longest ocean race. For all the crew taking part this was a huge day, waiting to see if the skippers who had trained us would make the cut and if they would be joining our journey. I was very pleased to recognise four out of the 12 who were chosen; I would be happy to take on the world’s harshest oceans with any of these people as I have the greatest respect for them.
“Now we wait with mixed emotions for crew allocation later this month. I’m filled with excitement and nerves to find out who my skipper will be, plus – even more importantly – who my crew are. From this day on, these people will become my family and my friends rolled into one – imagine spending your days in a 70ft space, nowhere to escape if you’re having a bad day, no time lazing in bed if you’re feeling sick (or just fancy a duvet day).
“For 11 months we will be living, breathing, sleeping, eating and of course racing together. There will be days when every single piece of kit is soaked through, no dry clothes to put on, no hot shower to jump into. And then there will be days when it’s so hot, no air on the boat, no wind to keep it moving along; you can easily imagine how these kind of conditions might test even the calmest person’s patience.
“Having said all of that I just can’t wait for this race to begin, as I feel it will change me as a person. For instance, I’d struggle to find an acquaintance among my contacts who says material objects don’t matter; everyone is always after the latest phone, car, fashion item and so on. But these things won’t be in consideration during the race. I can’t imagine not having life’s little luxuries surrounding me, but I know it’s time to ditch the makeup, heels, perfume and nail varnish and embrace the new me.”