Against all odds
To believe that someone diagnosed with congenital dislocation of the hip at less than a year old will sail around the world would be hard for many.
Muscat-based Claire Carroll is ready to take on some of the most extreme sailing conditions on the planet, taking on waves as high as buildings while racing against 11 other teams for almost a year.
A sound technician at Royal Opera House Muscat, Claire will be on this year’s Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, covering some 40,000 miles over eight legs, crossing the Equator twice and visiting 13 countries. Claire has been sailing since her teens and she doesn’t see any reason why someone shouldn’t give everything to be on a yacht sailing around the world for a year. “I have used my entire life’s savings for this trip. I just love the sea, and I want to take the opportunity when it has shown up, because I have learnt that life changes and it can turn upside down very quickly.”
She recounts how she was nearly killed in a road accident in 2010 while in the UK.
“For Christmas I was driving to my parents’ and was hit by a truck, ending up on crutches for weeks and in rehab sessions for months.”
It was in 2006 that Claire had made up her mind to do the Clipper Race but the plan was pushed to the back burner due to work commitments. “In 2012, I went to Abu Dhabi to watch the Volvo Ocean Race and there I decided I wanted to do the Clipper Race. I signed up to get information and received a call from a recruitment manager who had worked for Oman Sail in the past. We chatted and he asked what leg of the race I would want to sign up for. I said I will do the whole thing.”
Claire completed Level 1 training for the Clipper Race in August 2012 but to get into shape and be ready for challenges ahead, she has been taking part in biathlons and triathlons, including the Muscat and Abu Dhabi half marathons. “It would be a really bad idea to be on the race without being fit. It is physically very challenging. You have to be pretty strong. Level 1 is where you come to know whether you are fit enough to go ahead. Also, it’s the last chance for a sailor to say he is not up for it,” she says.
For Level 2 and 3 in the summer, Claire will be back in the UK and by then she will know which team she is on and who her team members are. The race is likely to begin sometime in August.
Talking about her childhood operations, which could have left her physically challenged, Claire says that her condition is a common one, but in the 1970s there was no guarantee that she would walk, let alone race. “But thankfully, I don’t remember anything about it,” she smiles.
As part of her pre-race training she is also raising money for UK-based charities: Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Maggie’s (cancer care), Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and STEPS, which supports those affected by lower limb conditions.
She is running a blog, http://clairedoesclipper.blogspot.com, where readers can go and check out her preparations for the race and also donate to the charities via Virgin Money Giving. “Any money donated on this page is split equally between the four charities. None of the money donated goes towards my berth fee,” she asserts.