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Meet the Crew: Richard Burchell – Clipper ‘96 Crew Back Racing on Clipper 2019-20 Race

25/09/2019

Name: Richard Burchell

Occupation: Chiropodist

Hometown: Caterham, Surrey

Leg: Circumnavigation

Team: Imagine you Korea

Twenty-three years after Richard Burchell, 62, took part in Clipper ‘96, the very first Clipper Race, Richard has returned to circumnavigate the globe on the current edition of the race. Describing his experience, he said: “I did one leg of Clipper ‘96; I went to Hawaii, Japan and Hong Kong and had such a fantastic time, I promised myself when the time was right I would return to go around the world.”

The very first Clipper Round the World Yacht Race started on Wednesday 16 October 1996, with the eight-strong fleet of 60-foot yachts departing Plymouth, UK for the American port of Fort Lauderdale via Madeira. The inaugural race’s route took in ports including the Galapagos, Hawaii, Yokohoama, Salvador and the Azores before returning to Plymouth on 14 September 1997. Fast forward to the Clipper 2019-20 Race and Richard has set off to the sound of thousands of people cheering him on from the banks of St. Katharine Docks, London as part of a fleet of eleven 70ft yachts. 

Richard, who is embarking on the challenge with the Imagine your Korea team, shared what drew him back to the Clipper Race for a second time – the people. He says, “I remember an awful lot about the people I sailed with and that is what drew me back. Barely a month goes by when I don’t think about someone I shared the experience with on Clipper ‘96.”

The important message that Richard wants to send out to anyone, is to take opportunities when you can, whatever the dream. “I am a Chiropodist and I’ve sold the family business and decided now is the time, before I get too old, to circumnavigate with the Clipper Race. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement I have received and I truly hope that I encourage others to do what they want to do, as so often we put things off.”

He continued: “My father had a stroke seven years ago and is now in a wheelchair. He promised himself that when he retired, he would do all sorts of wonderful things but that has been taken away from him. That is the other thing that prompted me to take on this opportunity.” His lasting advice is to “never give yourself the chance to look back and think ‘if only I had’, because that’s terrible.”

The intrepid crew member puts his desire to sail around the world down to his high school experience. “My sailing experience started at Riddlesdown High School where my geography teacher, Don Garman, wanted to take people out on a sailing course in the ‘70’s – it sparked my interest in sailing. I am so pleased to have been able to tell him recently that what he started all those years ago has resulted in me doing this. I want him to know that one small thing has resulted in me taking part in the Clipper Race”. Richard now hopes to inspire people, whatever their circumstances, to follow their dreams.

And whilst the 40,000nm ocean race is Richard’s dream adventure, he is also hoping to tick a few more goals off his list, including diving in the Great Barrier Reef and sailing past the statue of Liberty into New York. He has friends and family tracking his progress via the Race Viewer and he is keenly documenting all of his experiences, to inspire younger generations. He says: “My ex-girlfriend’s Grandson, Kian, is following me everyday. He has given me an exercise book so I can write a blog every day and he is following me on the Race Viewer. At school he is learning about each country we will be visiting. The school has embraced it!” 

To join Junior Race Supporter Kian, and track the race, visit the Race Viewer and keep up to date with Richard’s news from onboard here. Warning, it does make for addictive viewing.