Sunday, 10 June 2012

The UK adventure begins!

This week I am driving from Cornwall, all the way up to Edinburgh, via Glasgow and I finish near London. Drawn on a map, that makes a nice circle around a good chunk of the UK.

Yikkes, the last few days have been crazily busy! - I've been getting the SpaceShip (which still has no name) ready and have been putting loads of kit in her.. I even installed a little boat compass. Today, I have driven down to Cornwall and I am currently all snuggled up at ShelterBox's training HQ at Predannack Airfield writing this blog. 

I had a relatively late night yesterday as I had a million and one things to do and so I was pretty tired during my drive down here. At around the half way point, I decided I'd had enough of this yawning lark, so I pulled into a services and got a quick 30mins of zzzzz.  Waking up a fair bit more refreshed to the very uninviting sound of my alarm clock I got on the road again.

This is all good training and is very insightful for what is to come in the future during my trip around the world. During my UK leg, I am visiting LOADS of schools / scout groups along the way so maybe I'll be seeing you soon?! 

All these groups have raised a substantial amount of money for ShelterBox and I will be popping in to say Thank you!

Got to sign off now as I seriously need some sleep. It's only 9.40pm.. Getting old I suppose!

Check out my youtube page for my latest video... HERE


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Driving on the 'wrong side'

Tomorrow marks an important day. Tomorrow marks one month until I depart from London to Drive Around the World! Not long to go now.

This weekend I am doing some 'wrong side of the road' driving. I've headed over to Belgium to get a little used to it before I jump in at the deep end and set off around the world. I'm with my dad this time who has been great in giving tips for driving on the other side.

Every time I pull out of a parking space or am driving along a quiet stretch of road, all I keep saying to my self is..'keep on the right, keep on the wrong side!'. Everything is just flipped over! I am also having to get used to different road markings and also reading all of the road signs in a foreign language.

This weekend is also proving to be a great hands on test for my SpaceShip as I am getting to know her well. There are so many great little things that I didn't even realise about the SpaceShip. One would be the INCREDIBLE cup holders in the front. That may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but I am pretty bowled over to be fair..

I spent last night in a rather unglamorous place, the ferry lorry park. It was half 12 and I just wanted to sleep – very easy to do with this SpaceShip.. Today I've been driving around Brussels getting VERY VERY lost but eventually making it to the centre. This was great practice as their was a lot of pressure / impatient drivers, and I now feel more confident in driving on the wrong side.

I've headed this evening over to a lovely quaint little place where I have set up camp by a lake – really picturesque. Tomorrow it's a fair drive back to Ostend, back on the ferry and a quick drive home.

One more thing – my SpaceShip doesn't currently have a name. Can you think of one and place it in the comments below?



Sunday, 20 May 2012

Giving Back

I look back at the last few years of my life, and I have had a pretty good run you could say. I've seen some amazing sights, had some amazing adventures and I've been pretty lucky to be able to do all these things.

Something I have always been passionate about, is giving back. I have always tried to incorporate charities into everything I've done. When I crossed the Atlantic, it was for RYA Sailabilty, going around the world was for the Tall Ships Youth Trust & Save the Children. The bounty boat project was for the Sheffield Institute Foundation, for research into motor neurone disease. The Youth Sydney Hobart Campaign, was for the World Food Programme.

Recently I have been doing some volunteering for the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Mid April, we took out a bunch of teenagers for a week’s sailing on the south coast, and the difference it made to the guys was awesome. The trust is all about empowering young people, and I definitely saw that happen. We were sailing one of the Trust's Challenger 72's. This is quite a big boat and is very physical to handle, it definitely got the guys working pretty hard. So hard in fact, they were all asleep by 10pm every night! I look forward to doing some more volunteering for them this coming year. It is very rewarding seeing these young people grow during the week. For more info on the trust, check out the website, I also strongly recommend this charity as a great place to learn how to sail in a fun team building environment.

On another tack, I have recently started to support the Disaster Relief Charity, ShelterBox. The charity, ShelterBox aim to deliver emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people affected by disasters around the world. Yesterday, the YoungShelterBox branch of the charity were holding a fantastic event in London called the London Scavenger Hunt which I was very honoured to be asked to help out with.

This Scavenger Hunt, was made up of around 100 teams of scouts and cubs, running around London with an empty ShelterBox - Pretty cool! After registration, the teams set off soon after 10am with the quickest arriving back shortly after 1pm – quite a feat! I was on hand to welcome them back, hand out prizes for the winners and speak to them about the great work that ShelterBox does.

ShelterBox has become a big part of my life recently and I will be working with the charity closely throughout this year. Stay tuned for more announcements!…


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Turning 20!

So now that’s it. My time is up. I am no longer a teenager. Perhaps I’ll now have to grow up? Perhaps I’ll now have to act more mature and dress in a suit from 9 till 5? Don’t be silly, of course I won’t be doing that! I plan on living young for the rest of my life!

My dad craftily told me yesterday, ‘halfway to 40 now, better get a move on!’ He is so typical! I look back at the last 20 years (what I can remember of it anyway) and I do think I’ve had a pretty good ride so far. I’ve had some amazing experiences, especially over the last 6 years; from sailing across the Atlantic when I was 14 years old to recently participating in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race with the youngest crew ever to participate.

I have recently been speaking at a lot of schools and it gives me such a great buzz telling the students about my adventures and about how they too can get out there and live their dreams. I find it a real honour and privilege to be in such a position and I hope that through my adventures, other young people will have many more adventures of their own.

I’m now putting in all my resources into planning my next adventure, and I am certainly getting much busier, which isn’t a bad thing. I don’t like to sit around and let life pass me by, I want to be part of it and experience it to the maximum!

This photo that was taken in Hobart Tasmania always makes me smile. It always reminds me to have fun and keep smiling no matter what the situation!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Sydney Hobart Recap & What's Next!

What a start to 2012 it's been! As always, I'm amazed by how quickly time flies when you're having fun! It feels like only yesterday that I flew out to Australia at the start of October to begin my training for the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race with Team Another Challenge.

After three full months of training we crossed the start line with high ambitions to do well and prove the 'old boys' that we could compete at the highest level sailing and be pretty darn competitive. I'm not sure what the general public consensus was of our crew, but I'm pretty sure that not many people were taking us too seriously. After all, we did have a pink boat. - Oh boy we proved them wrong!

We had a great start off the line and were continually crossing tacks with Deloitte as One, our coaches Sydney 38 which he had chartered to race against us. Out of the harbour we went, virtually neck and neck with them, and then we each chose our strategy. I was navigating on board our boat Ella Bache and I followed my game plan to be to the East of them throughout pretty much the whole race.

On the first night, a fairly impressive front rolled through with a nice punchy rolling cloud on the edge of it. In the space of 5 minutes we went from sailing downwind with our masthead kit to beating upwind in 35 knots. That wasn't fun. Both us and Deloitte as One were trading 1st place in class as we jostled for position and played out every shift that came our way.

However, our time at the top of the leader board was fairly short-lived, as by the time the sun rose the following day, the Sydney 38's even more East of us had gained a better lay line into the coast and had overtaken us by 5 miles. That hurt – but it gave us a rather large motivation to catch them.

Sailing down the coast to just before the latitude of Green Cape was a rather tough slog upwind with not many game changing options amongst the fleet. Until we arrived at the Latitude of Gabo Island that is. I saw an opportunity in the routing to take an unfavourable tack out about 10miles to the East which would then set us up for a better tack into the Tasmanian coast. It was a long term strategy and a bit of a gamble but we had to make us the miles of the Sydney 38's in front of us that had etched out a lead of around 8 miles.

The reasoning for this strategy was two fold -  it would set us up for a better lay line into the coast and we'd also have more favourable current. The ultra long term strategy was also to be the most eastern boat so that when a forecasted high pressure cell moved over Tasmania on our last night of sailing, we'd be best positioned to negotiate it. I was a bit surprised and also a bit nervous when after an hour, no one else in the fleet had done the same thing by heading east. But then, Deloitte as One also tacked out to almost an identical longitude and just a mile behind us. 

In the end, after another day and a half's sailing it paid off big time. We had reduced the top boats lead by 15 miles down to a mere 4
5 miles and we were in a close neck and neck race with four other Sydney 38's all within a mile of each other. We were still the most eastern boat and I hoped this would pay off in the final stages of the race.

Sailing the final miles across Storm Bay and up the Derwent river were some of the most exciting miles I've ever sailed. We were holding onto second place and we were defending our position against 3rd placed The Goat. We crossed the line after 4 days, 2 hours, 43 minutes and 49 seconds of fantastic close racing – Just four minutes ahead of 3rd placed The Goat. After three months of serious training, we had done it, we had shown the sailing community, and the public, that a team of youngsters could compete against the top guys! It was such a good feeling and the whole crew was on a huge high for a number of days.

After the race, I sailed our coached boat Deloitte as One back up to Sydney and then after a couple of days rest, flew up North to the Sunshine Coast for a bit of relaxing in the sun. I had a great time up there and also learnt how to wake board on a surf board which was a novel experience!

I've now flown back to the UK to catch up on a bit of paperwork, but most importantly, for the start of my Schools Tour which begins next Monday. I'm throughly excited about this as I love talking to school pupils of all ages about my experiences as hopefully through doing that, it will inspire them to put a foot out and try and live some of their dreams. If you have any interest in booking a talk for your school or organisation, please don't hesitate contacting me through the 'Contact' section of my website

Recently, it was also great to see Laura Dekker return from her around the world trip. I'm a big fan of the way she has embraced adventuring and hopefully through her promotion of this, we'll see more teenagers making the most of their lives! It was such a shame to see the struggle that she went through with the courts and I'm chuffed for her to have proved them wrong! Good on ya girl!