November started with an exciting trip to Fredrikstad in Norway. Guy had purchased yacht Showtime a year ago, once Betsy had completed her transatlantic she was surplus to requirements and sold. Let the next project begin – so off to Norway we went to prepare yacht Showtime for the winter.
I love Scandinavia, everything about it – the culture, food, country and it was great to go there on holiday for a change rather than work. Guy had gone ahead of me and I flew in a few days later to join him. Straight away I experienced the huge hospitality – Guy and I were made to feel so welcome, both by our hosts at the Airbnb and the friends Guy had made over the past year in Norway.
‘Showtime’ appeared bigger than I thought she would be, maybe because she was out the water. She is a Hero 101 and 34ft long. A dehumidifier was set up and an external A frame with a tarpaulin which should keep her dry from the winter elements. Guy had been to see the rigger as the plan is to put her in the water in possibly March and then sail her back to the UK in May.
Once Guy was happy we had done everything we could with Showtime we spent a few days sightseeing. Erik kindly took us out on the water a couple of times, on the Sunday before we flew home we did the most beautiful cruise around the islands, south of Fredrikstad. It was so peaceful, a lovely sunny day and at minus 2oC it was really chilly on deck but worth wrapping up for the breath-taking scenery. I really was living the dream.
A week later everything came crashing down, we received the news that I still can’t put into words to describe – the devastating news that one of our Team members on board GREAT Britain Clipper boat had died whilst they were racing in the Southern Ocean. Simon Speirs had been doing a headsail change on the foredeck, a wave washed him overboard, and though he was clipped on the clip seems to have failed. MOB was operated immediately and the crew got him back on board, however Simon never regained consciousness and died on deck.
When I received the message I could only read the first lines – Fatality on board Great Britain – Simon. I broke down, I was heart broken, how could this happen. Our lovely team who we saw in Cape Town last. A GREAT team we are so proud to be part of, this wasn’t something we thought could happen to us. Guy and I had helped Simon briefly with the sail maintenance whilst in Cape Town, I was part of his sail repair team – he was so happy and looking forward to seeing some of his family later in the week. It wasn’t supposed to be the last time we saw him, I should be joining him in New York with the team. Simon was buried at sea and the next week our thoughts were continuously with his family and our crew as they approached Fremantle, Australia.
A week later they arrived in port, it was heart wrenching to see the look in their eyes, what they had been through is traumatic. Four extra crew flew immediately over to assist, I took comfort in this and the dialogue and support we were all given as a team was amazing.
RIP Simon, an amazing gentleman, the team raced for you to gain an incredible second place on the podium, I am sure you were with them in spirit. I raced for you on the Sunday after you left this world, on yacht Kassy in Scarborough, this tragedy has made me even more determined to live life to the full and follow my dreams #ForSimon