Michael Jones is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
The 32 year-old sailor will later this month compete in the 10th Clipper Round the World Race – a yearlong event that demands six ocean crossings and over 40,000 miles of nautical racing.
‘Tino‘, as he is known as by the local sailing community, is the first person from Barbados to compete in the event, and once successful, will become the first ever Barbadian to race around the world.
“More people have climbed Mount Everest than have sailed around the world, so I’m going into this experience with an open mind and I’ll deal with challenges as they come,” he said.
Jones will be tackling the gruelling around-the-world challenge aboard “Visit Seattle‘, one of twelve identical 70ft racing yachts taking part in The Clipper. A certified dive master, he has been appointed Bosun of the twelve member crew and along with engineering duties, he will be responsible for the components of Visit Seattle’s hull and mast during the expected 330 days at sea.
“We only have one boat and one set of sails, so if anything goes wrong, it’s on us to fix it. By the time help arrives in the middle of the ocean, it will be too late. It’s scary but it’s a reality and we have to be prepared for any and all eventualities. Safety is of paramount importance for all competing crews,” he said.
Tino said he was first introduced to yacht racing in his early twenties by his uncle and long-time sailor Ralph Johnson. Johnson, who is also Chairman of Harris Paints, paid special tribute to his nephew during a recent send-off at the Wildey headquarters of the Caribbean Champions of Colour. Tino’s father Robert is also the President of Harris Paints.
“Harris Paints has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the sport of sailing and we are now especially proud to have one of our family members flying the national flag for Barbados on the high seas,” said Johnson. “It is another fine example of Barbadians taking on great challenges and showing it’s possible to make a mark on the world stage”.
On this seafaring adventure, one of the highlights, no doubt for all Clipper contenders, will be the chance to participate in the legendary Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. At this stage, having crossed the southern Atlantic and successfully negotiated the treacherous and inhospitable Southern Ocean, the Clipper crews should be well primed to handle this unrelenting slog south to the island of Tasmania in one of the most famous and hotly contested long ocean races in the world.
“You can never conquer the ocean but you can try to endure it,” added Jones, who noted some of the challenges he expects to face.
“There will be some very long periods at sea and these racing vessels are very stripped down, so there isn’t much personal space, no showers, limited sleep and freeze-dried rations, so you need to be mentally prepared for that.
“Of course you also have to expect to encounter some dangerous conditions at times, big seas and high winds. It’s important to be able to maintain focus in order to rely on your skills and training no matter the distractions or conditions. While I recognize it will be a very serious challenge, it is an incredible opportunity and I am very much looking forward to the experience.”
The Clipper starts on Sunday, August 30th on the River Thames in London before weaving its way to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Cape Town (South Africa), Albany (Western Australia), Sydney (Australia), Hobart (Tasmania), Airlie Beach (Queensland), Danang (Vietnam), Quingdao (China), Seattle (Washington), Panama (Panama), New York (New York), Londonderry/ Derry (Ireland) and finally London again.