Ashley Minato takes on an Ocean Challenge
Clipper Round the World Race
In 1996, an 11 year old Ashley Minato joined the Albury Wodonga Yacht Club along with his older brother Ben (13 years) and parents Robert and Shirleen. Ashley was quite a keen sailor and grew up crewing on Tasar dinghies prior to skippering many classes of boats up to a Sonata 26 trailer sailer. By the time he was 17 he owned an Alpha Omega 5 catamaran.
As so often happens, work and a subsequent move to Melbourne meant that Ashley had little time for sailing and took a few years off from the sport. After moving to Perth in 2014 he finally found the time to get back in to sailing and joined South of Perth Yacht Club. Initially starting out with a kite surfer, he managed to find a crew position on a few ocean going yachts prior to becoming a regular on a 40 foot racing yacht Argo, racing out of Fremantle Sailing Club. He has recently purchased an Elliott 770 Sports boat Connected that he sails out of South of Perth Yacht Club on the Swan River.
Ashley’s passion for sailing continued to grow and he decided he needed a bigger challenge. This is when he found out about the opportunity to join the Clipper Round The World race.
The Clipper Race is a 40 000 nautical mile (74 000 km) race divided into 8 legs and comprising 14 individual races. It is the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of twelve identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper to safely guide the crew.
The Clipper Race yachts are 23 metres (70 foot) long, 5.65 metres (18.5 foot) wide with a 29 metre (95 foot) mast height. Boats weigh in at 31.7 tonnes of which 12 tonnes in in the bulb keel. The maximum speed recorded is 35 knots (which occurred in the North Pacific Ocean during the Clipper 2013-14 Race). These yachts are stripped of all luxuries. Other than their sailing protective clothing, crews are only permitted a minimal amount of luggage. Crews must live with each other in confined spaces, cooking facilities are minimal and bunks cramped.
Normally the domain of seasoned pros, this supreme challenge is taken on by ordinary, everyday people. Having completed a rigorous training course, participants are suited and booted in the latest extreme protection gear to commence the race of their lives. Ashley undertook the first three training courses in Sydney. Level 1 comprised a week of harbour sailing learning how to set sails, learning the different job roles on the boat and finished with an overnight sail from Pittwater to Newcastle and back to Sydney. Ashley describes the training as a different learning experience sailing on a yacht that is 68 foot long as well as a mixed ability crew. Some participants had never sailed before.
Level 2 was again in Sydney. Training was in inclement weather and involved two days of in dock training prior to heading out on to the water, anchoring in Pittwater. Further training involved sailing down to Wollongong and along the coast. Training was focused on tacking and gybing and getting to know the boat. Level 3 training again sailed to Pittwater and south to Cronulla. This level training was mainly concerned with setting and sailing under spinnaker. Level 4 training was conducted on the actual race boats (a Clipper 70) from Gosport in southern England. Training involved boat induction and then sailing around the Isle of Wight conducting a series of training drills to further advance their skill and ability as well as concentrating on safety. For Ashley it was a great week of sailing with the added bonus of meeting fellow participants from many nations, some of whom he will actually be sailing with.
Race participants can sign on for any number of legs. Those completing the whole race form the mainstay of the crew and take on major roles for the duration of the race. These major roles are navigation, first aider, victualing, sail repairs, watch leader and safety officer. Ashley has chosen to do the All Australian Leg 4: Fremantle to the Whitsundays. This leg comprises three individual races: Fremantle to Sydney; the world renowned 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and Hobart to the Whitsundays. Ashley will be sailing on UNICEF, one of the twelve boats in the fleet. UNICEF is the world’s leading children’s charity and has been the Official Clipper Race Charity since the 2015-16 race.
Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays will see the culmination of Leg 4. Participants from this leg will then disembark, having competed and completed one of the most exciting yacht races available over a period of about 28 days. Ashley is most looking forward to the challenge of pushing himself physically and mentally, a long distance yacht race and the chance to team up with a group of liked minded individuals.
Good luck Ash. Have fun, do well and enjoy the challenge.
Written by Robert Minato
Photos provided by Clipper Round the World Race.