5th June 2019
An adventure-seeking amateur sailor will soon set sail on the longest and most challenging ocean race on the planet in aid of Turn to Starboard.
Francesca Kitto-Jones has signed up for The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and is preparing to circumnavigate the globe in August for almost a year on board a 70-foot ocean racing yacht.
Now in its twelfth edition, the global endurance race covers 40,000 nautical miles across six oceans and tests 700 participants to their absolute limit. Divided into eight stages, the race is the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, and is open to everyone no matter what their previous sailing experience.
So far, the TV schedule editor from London has raised more than £1,000 for the charity through her fundraising page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fkj. The 47-year-old said she decided to support the charity to help Armed Forces personnel get the support they need. She said: “I’m not brave enough to put myself through what so many Service personnel do but if I were, I would want to know that I’d get all the help I needed when I left.”
We caught up with Francesca to find out more about why she decided to take part in the world-famous race.
When did you first start sailing?
FKJ: I went on a couple of flotilla holidays with my family when I was a teenager and retained a vague interest and more recently, have enjoyed a couple of dinghy sailing holidays in Menorca.
What made you decide to take part in the Clipper Round the World Race?
FKJ: I find this a difficult question to answer as in hindsight, I can’t remember the moment of deciding to do it. I do remember filling in the application, but I think it was a slow percolation that lead up to it just sort of happening. It was more like being pulled along by the feeling that it was the right thing for me to be doing.
How are you preparing for the event?
FKJ: Beyond the training which all Clipper crew members must complete, I’m hoping to spend some time on the water with Turn to Starboard, not only to add to my experience but also get to know better the work the charity does and meet a few of your beneficiaries along the way. Getting physically fit, reading and watching online clips of other sailing events are all helping me.
How are you feeling about stepping on board?
FKJ: Ask me again near the time! I signed up in late 2017 so it’s been a long way off for a long time. Now suddenly it’s this year and I feel excited and anxious in equal measure. The closer it gets, the more nervous I feel but I know too that the nerves will diminish the more training I do and the more confident I will feel.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge?
FKJ: Can I say everything? If you ask my family and friends, they would probably say the lack of chocolate! I find it very hard to single out any one thing as it all so new, unknown and completely different from anything else I’ve ever done.
When do you set sail and return?
FKJ: At the time of writing, it’s still TBC but the end of August/beginning of September is what we’re working towards with a return 11 months later.
Why have you chosen to support Turn to Starboard?
FKJ: I had already decided I wanted to support a military charity but wanted to find one of the smaller, less well-known ones that fitted in with my endeavour. Turn to Starboard fits that bill perfectly and the more I find out about it, the more pleased I am to have found it!
If you would like to show your support, click here to visit Francesca’s fundraising page.