Published: Tuesday, 08 March 2016

British travel writer Simon Parker is preparing to embark on a 133-day, 15,000-mile sail and cycle challenge from China to London via the US – the equivalent of travelling almost half way round the world.

Clipper Race

The 28-year-old from Oxford will join Leg 6 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race from Qingdao, China, to Seattle, USA.

Not content with that achievement alone, Simon will then cycle 4,000 miles across the USA as the Clipper Race fleet continues around America to New York. He will be relying on his own self-motivation to complete 80-100 miles a day, solo for six weeks. 

Once in New York, Simon will rejoin his Clipper Race team and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In his final challenges, he will cycle from Northern Ireland to Holland, then sail to London in a 36-hour sprint to the Clipper Race Finish at Tower Bridge on July 30.

On what has motivated him to take on this challenge, Simon said: “People may think I’m crazy for attempting this, and maybe I am a little, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw it as an amazing opportunity for a unique travel challenge.”

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, established by legendary British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the planet in 1968-69, is the only event of its kind which trains amateurs like Simon to race across the world’s oceans. 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew, who come from all walks of life, have never sailed before they sign up and start their extensive training.

Clipper Race 1

The idea for Simon’s sail and cycle challenge came after he had already signed up to sail across the Pacific Ocean, the longest leg of the 11-month, 40,000-nautical mile Clipper Race. He explains:

“Before I signed up and started my Clipper Race training, like many of my crew mates, I had never sailed before. At first the idea of sailing across the world’s biggest ocean was a daunting enough task, but as the training went on, I began to think about creating a greater challenge for myself within the Clipper Race journey, and decided to use the race route to create a test for myself within the race.”

He adds that at times the trip will be grim. The Clipper Race sees competitors encounter extreme conditions from hurricanes, tornadoes and icebergs to waves the size of houses and extreme heat in the tropics during the 11-month long odyssey.

Only 3,300 people have completed the Clipper Race over nine editions since its inception in 1995, and fewer people have circumnavigated the world than have climbed Mount Everest, according to race organisers. 

Simon adds: “It will be a real social experiment for me at sea for a month surviving in a small capsule with no privacy or luxury while crossing the world’s largest ocean and enduring some of Mother Nature’s most extreme conditions.

“I will then be cycling through America encountering everything from snow to mountains and potential danger such as bears. I won’t have much kit apart from a tent and stove and I have a small budget, and am hoping people will help me along the way with accommodation, which will be an interesting social experiment in itself to explore,” Simon added.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston wished Simon luck with his challenge, adding: “I came up with the concept of the Clipper Race to allow ordinary people to explore their adventurous side and push their limits to achieve something extraordinary. I look forward to hearing what Simon finds out about himself and others during the challenge.”

Parker will fly out from the UK on March 14 to join his crew in Qingdao, China. He will be blogging about his experience and on his cycling journey across the USA, Simon will be raising awareness of the Clipper Race’s Official Charity Unicef by meeting local projects.