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.
“The final preparations are underway. Having just returned home from the final phase of training, I am now living, breathing and dreaming the Clipper Race.
“Seven days on board a stripped back, 70ft racing yacht gave us all a glimpse of what life will be like when we finally slip the lines and set off on our 40,000 mile journey around the world. First mission before we set off was to pack as lightly as possible; when temperatures are reaching the high 20c s on shore, you’d think packing would be as simple as a few pairs of shorts, a vest or two and not much else. Trust me, it’s way more complicated than that.
“When the wind picks up and the sun sets the temperature drops faster than you can imagine. Using layers is the key to perfect packing and learning to wear the same thing day after day is something we all need to get used to. Baby wipe showers are something we’ll also have to accept and embrace because if anyone thinks they’ll be able to have a shower once a day, then I’m afraid they’re very much mistaken. Forget about those beauty products and little luxuries; learn to love the basics instead.
“Getting your body synced with the watch system is the next challenge: four hours on deck, four hours off throughout the night, followed by six hours on, six hours off during the day. It sounds far worse than it actually is. After day two, it feels natural, although there are times when you wish you could just turn over and have another hour or two of sleep, rather than falling out of your bunk, straight into kit, switching on the alert button and being ready to race within 20 minutes of waking up. It’s tough, but nobody ever said it would be easy. So, kit sorted and body synced with the watch system, Team Sean is working its magic and transforming into a top racing crew. Seems we’re almost ready for the off.
“With the race day looming, it’s almost time to hand over my role to my sabbatical cover. My replacement for the next year has worked within our agency since 1999; doing a handover with someone who has many more years’ experience than me is something to be treated with care. I’m filled with the fear of sounding patronising when explaining my day-to-day responsibilities, so a slow, gradual handover seemed to be the way forward. For instance, Nathalie covered my role while I was out on race training the other week, meaning her and the bosses spent some quality time working together, knowing I’d be back to cover any questions either side had. Touch wood, it all seems to be going well.
“Once work is finished, my life will well and truly become filled with all things Clipper-related. There’s the boat preparation, sailing the yachts up to London, the opening of the Clipper Race Village at St Katherine’s Dock – the momentum is building as is the fun. A few precious moments to spend with family and loved ones and then we’ll be off.
“Sunday, 1 September is the date that should be in everyone’s diary; if you’re in London and want to see 12 racing yachts parade up and down the Thames, followed by numerous boats filled with friends and family, make sure you stop by to wave us off, as it’s set to be a very special day indeed. My next blog will be filed from Rio – exciting times ahead!”