Thursday 8 May 2014, 14:23
Hero fundraiser Lesley is on the high seas, sailing a gruelling 5500-mile leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. And there's massive cause for celebration for her and her team on board the GREAT Britain yacht, after winning Race 11 from San Francisco to Panama.
It’s obviously something about having a small yellow bear on board! It was a fantastic morning as we sailed towards the finish, and I was given the honour of helming the yacht across the line. The trouble was that we really weren't sure where our nearest competitor was, whether they were in front or behind us. At the finish there were whoops of joy on board but still a bit of uncertainty. When we got the confirmation through that we'd won, it was just brilliant. In actual fact we were several miles ahead!
It’s extraordinary. Before I started I had this nervous anxiety that, with only 3 weeks training, I might just be a spare part on board. What’s struck me though is the amazing team spirit, and the one-to-one coaching. The experts are gently stretching us to learn new skills, whether that’s trimming the sail or being on the helm - we're really contributing and not just being passengers.Every eight days we do a 14-hour shift cooking for the rest of the crew
The most difficult thing has definitely been the heat. It's been 40 degrees at the Tropics and you can’t escape it. When you’re trying to grab a few hours’ sleep and you can’t get cool - that’s the one thing that’s hit me more than anything else. In terms of the actual sailing, it’s been really different to the training. We've just had 11 days sailing downwind with the spinnaker up and you don’t get much chance to do that in the English Channel where we practised.
Right now we're all busy doing on-board maintenance. We’re repairing some sails and there are various things that need fixing, and once that’s done we’ll have a few days off before the next race. The next one is a short one, only two to three days to Jamaica, but it’ll be very intensive. Then we have a longer stopover, before the last one up to New York.
My biggest motivation to keep going is not wanting to let my team down. It's what wakes me up when I’m sleeping , makes me put my life jacket on and gets me on deck. And now I have the added thrill of knowing we can win the races! Let’s try to do more of the same!
See how much Lesley has raised on her JustGiving page.