Former Doncaster Rovers and York City Knights player, Craig Forsyth, is preparing to embark on an epic challenge to raise funds awareness, for the Try Assist Benevolent Fund. Forsyth has signed up to take part in two gruelling legs of the 2013/14 Clipper Yacht Race that will see him battle against the elements and some of the world’s most dangerous oceans.
The unique event will celebrate its 15th anniversary since the race’s conception in 1996. The Clipper Race that is held every two years was the brain child of Sir Robert Knox–Johnston who was the first man to perform a single handed circumnavigation of the globe. His idea was to offer the chance for people from all walks of life to share the experience of sailing around the world.
Craig said: “I have always wanted to do something like this and couldn’t think of a better charity to represent and raise funds and awareness for. I have been lucky in that I didn’t get many injuries while playing the rugby league, so I see this as a way of using my good fortune to help people who did. It is going to be a great experience, but at the same time a very difficult one. Once you are on the boat there is no turning back and I am determined to stick it out until the very end.”
Craig, will share a 70 foot long racing yacht with 22 other crew members and will compete against 12 other boats in two of the race’s eight legs. Like a formula 1 Grand Prix season, points awarded will accumulate to a championship total from the 15 individual races that make up the eight legs. For those who are taking part in all eight legs, it will take around 11 months and 40.000 miles to complete the race around the world.
Craig’s voyage will begin when he will join the boat on leg seven, which will be the tenth race. He and his crew will set off from the port of California and sail 3,329 miles on the Pacific Ocean before arriving in Panama 24 days later. From there, they will set off along the Panama Canal, before sailing through the blues waters of the Caribbean, which will then lead them to the Atlantic Ocean. This part of the race will cover 1,800 miles and they will reach their destination of New York in around 14 days.
To prepare for this remarkable journey Craig, who has just turned 42, has been keeping himself in top shape in between the training scheme’s that must be completed before participants are allowed to take part in the race, as he explains:
“First and foremost, you have to get past the interview process, which basically sees whether you’re capable both physically and mentally to be on a boat for that length of time. Whether you are taking part in just one leg or the entire race, everyone has to complete three individual week long courses.
“The first includes basic sailing principles, personal safety and sea survival techniques, before moving on to the more detailed racing skills. You then learn more about the navigational aspects, where you will study charts, tides, ocean currents and global weather patterns. The training culminates in the final week when all theses come together when you will sail with your crew for the first time. In between these I have been keeping myself fit by running by competing in 10 kilometre races and have managed to get under the 46 minute mark. I have recently taking up cycling too, which also helps improve my fitness and will keep me in shape ahead of the challenge.”
The second leg of Craig’s trip is known as the homecoming; it is comprised of four races and will be the final stage of this immense journey. After setting off from New York, the crew will sail 800 miles parallel with the shores of Nova Scotia and arrive in Canada five days later. From Canada they will make their way 2,000 miles across the Atlantic, which will last 13 days before landing in Ireland. They will then set off on a 550 mile dash up to Northern Europe where Craig will then end his challenge by travelling 200 miles back to the UK.
Craig has not done much sailing since his school days, but insists that isn’t a problem as the whole point of the Clipper Race, is to encourage people that have never sailed before to have ago.
“Sir Robert Knox-Johnston came up with this idea as way to promote sailing and get people involved it. As long as you are over 18 and are fit enough, then you are eligible to apply. There will be people taking part that has never set foot on a boat before and the oldest person to have competed over the years was 71.
“There will be one Skipper on each boat who will be fully trained, and then everyone else will have little or no experience. They divide crews up so that the people onboard have various skills and trades from their normal lives, and you need that to cover all the different jobs that are carried out on the boat. That is the beauty of this challenge, it is billed as a race for everyday people and it will challenge each individual in different ways.
“For me, I am not great with people that I don’t know sometimes and if you’re stuck on a boat with them, you cannot just decide you have had enough and get off. You have to work, eat and sleep with 22 other people all in the confined space of a 70 foot Yacht. But having played in a team sport for a long period of my life, I hoping the skills you learn from working as a team, will transcend into this.
“There is also that competitive edge and I will work hard towards winning parts of the race. At times there will be elements of danger, but that is what excites me about this challenge and the training we have beforehand will prepare us for any eventualities.
“I always want to challenge myself in whatever I do and this will be a massive challenge as well as a great experience. It will be well worth it because the benefits of me doing this are to help raise money and awareness for the two worthwhile charities.”
The money that Craig raises will be split down the middle half will go to the Try Assist Benevolent Fund and the other half going to the Macmillan Cancer Charity. To help fund the challenge, Craig has set up a webpage where companies can advertise their businesses’ exclusively, to attract as many sponsors as possible. If he gets enough sponsorship, then Craig will apply to take part in a third leg of the race. Leg six would see him set off from Qingdao on the West Coast of China and sail 5,680 miles to California.
For more information visit Craig’s website here: http://www.clippercraig.co.uk/ where you will find details on sponsorship and how you can donate. Craig also has a just giving site where you can donate.