The Wokingham Paper

An epic sailing journey with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

Wokingham Probus

A RACING sailor who took part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, described his exciting experiences in a presentation to Wokingham Probus Club on Wednesday, February 5, at the Coppid Beech Hotel, Bracknell.

Andrew Harper competed in two legs of a race which had suffered record breaking weather at both extremes of the spectrum from being becalmed in the Doldrums for exceptionally long periods to winds of 100mph plus in the Southern Ocean.

Some excellent video clips showed the yacht battling enormous seas. Such was the battering that the boat took that the crew had to constantly repair the huge sails, some bigger in area than a tennis court! But at other times they even had time relaxing in calmer weather.

The race founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, is set up to give sailing opportunities to a mix of people from all walks of life with perhaps little or no previous sailing experience other than basic pre-race training. Crew take part in as many of the 8 legs of the race as their time and budget permit.

This event is described as the toughest challenge to the natural world and an endurance test like no other.

PROBUS members were intrigued with the cramped and uncomfortable living arrangements and the sheer hard work of sail management under the atrocious conditions. The successful recovery of a man overboard vividly shown on film illustrated the risks always present.

On this occasion a happy conclusion, but not always so, as fatalities have occurred on this race which takes place every two years.

Andrew’s team achieved 7th place overall (of 12) but battling against the forces of nature rather than other competitors was the overall challenge.

Our picture shows former PROBUS Chairman Geoff Heron, left, thanking Andrew for his most entertaining and informative talk which was much appreciated by those present.

PROBUS is a meeting place for retired or semi-retired professional and business people, both men and women, who assemble monthly in an informal and friendly atmosphere for social chat, a pleasant lunch and a talk on a general interest topic.

New members will be most welcome. Fees are modest, lunches good value and the company friendly with a wide range of experiences and interests from their varied working lives.

Meetings are on the first Wednesday of the month at 12.30pm for 1pm lunch, with a talk usually following. The meeting place is Coppid Beech Hotel, John Nike Way, Bracknell, RG12 8TF. Our next meeting is on Wednesday, March 4, when Neville Lyons will relate the story of Joe Lyons of teashop fame.

We actively seek new members. If you think you might like to join us you will be most welcome to come and meet us, by prior arrangement, and try us without obligation. Contact Hugh Dempster, our secretary,  on 0118 973 0332  or e-mail

For our forthcoming programme and other information on the club please see

David Hunter

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