Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race: Introducing Dell Rugged Ambassador Heather Broadbent

This is an ongoing series of blogs by Dell Ambassadors competing in the Clipper Race, a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world in 70-foot racing yachts. Each yacht is equipped with two Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme notebooks and a Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme tablet to provide the onboard teams with access to critical navigation and communications throughout the challenging race.

Organization is key

Last-minute preparations have meant that all I have done is sleep, eat and breathe this race for weeks. It is a real dichotomy as I wanted to spend every minute with my family, but I also know how important it is to make the best possible preparations for myself and my team. I seem to have become the go-to person for general team enquiries; emailing, phoning and messaging daily for updates and info. This means I must be super organized with the information always to hand above or below deck. Having the Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme tablet to hand really eased the load as I am comfortable to have it on deck without the worry of it getting damaged.

Once the race started, my needs changed. With no emails to answer, my priority is to keep track of my race. The day we set off, I waved for over six hours nonstop to my family and friends who had travelled down to London to see me off. What a day it was, the culmination of all our preparation. Tens of thousands of spectators at St Katharine Docks meant that the atmosphere was absolutely electrifying. After feeling so calm for so many weeks, the emotion finally got to me. Seeing my beautiful daughters, Alex and Megan, made me the proudest mama in the land.

After the emotion of race build-up and the parade of sail, it was a huge relief to start racing. It was great to get those sparkling white new sails up and pulling us along.

Our first week

The first few days of the race were pure madness. The words that sum it up are: Seasick, BIG waves, fast sailing, disasters, injuries, despondency, tiredness, exhaustion and aching muscles.

The next few days took their toll on us all, draining everyone both mentally and physically. We were on our way to Portugal, beating hard into the wind.

During my downtime, I kept up to date with my blog writing lying in my bunk with the Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme tablet on my knee. I had the night mode switched on and, using the onscreen keyboard to type, it was super simple to keep track of the days. I decided from the start to commit to writing every day as I knew that the days would run together – after a few days at sea you lose all track of time. Some days it was great to watch a movie, just to clear my head and rest.

Team spirit was high, and crew roles were starting to become more established. Everyone is looking out for each other and every single person brings something to the crew.

Wind holes and toffee cake

The race was a game of cat and mouse with boats jostling for places. With a wind hole looming, we executed a tactical well-placed jibe, and soon we were back in second place with everything to play for. The dreaded wind hole showed up as a pale blue/green image in the Nav Station on our Dell Rugged notebook. It’s an area with no wind and it was touch-and-go as to who was going to get there first…and more to the point IF they get there first, would it matter? One of the slower boats could catch up and even though they had been hundreds of miles behind, they snuck into a podium place right at the last minute.

What a disaster! I woke after three hours of sleep to start my midnight standby shift only to find that we were practically last. The wind hole had hit us hard. After looking good for third place, the slower boats had caught us up and by sticking to the rhumb line they snuck past us on the inside. It wasn’t a huge surprise and the possibility of this happening had been discussed, but we had pushed hard to try and sail around the wind hole. Unfortunately, that strategy had left us further out than the rest of the chasing pack.

The toffee cake that I had cooked before I went to bed had been a triumph. That was the only saving grace of the day.

Eventually, we finished in seventh place – not a brilliant result but it has brought us together as a team. I already know I have made friends for life with my crew. Bring on race two – I can’t wait to get going again.

About the Author: Heather Broadbent