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14
May 2014

Just before the Panama Canal transit, we caught up with our favourite grandma (don’t tell her we said this), Kathy Hall, a nurse from Newcastle, NSW in Australia.

Your local newspaper, the Newcastle Herald, has been following your Clipper Race journey since you first signed up and has homed in on you being a grandma (we can't believe you're old enough!) We understand your grandchildren were one of the inspirations behind signing up for the race. Tell us about this and how they've been following your journey to date.

My local paper, the Newcastle Herald has been very interested and supportive in following my progress during this race. My face keeps popping up in the paper every now and again to the surprise of my friends and family. It seems there is no keeping a low profile for me. It is funny how the media hone in on a feature that seems to overshadow everything else that defines who you are.

Although, I guess the average grandma doesn’t set off to sail around the world for 12 months so the angle of interest is where I don't quite fit the usual stereotype. I haven't yet mastered the grandma art of baking scones but I have learnt to bake bread while sailing round the world so there may be hope for me yet. I don't exactly feel aged but sometimes wonder if I should be doing the things I do because I can't imagine my grandmother at this age having considered doing things like climbing up the mast etc. All the same I would prefer less focus on the grandma/age angle and more on the overall challenge which is a major undertaking whoever you are.  Sometimes even the tough guys are not up to the challenge but I think having a bit of maturity and a whole lot of life experience behind you, can give you the fortitude and stamina you need to meet the challenges and stay in for the long haul.

As well as gaining a sense of personal satisfaction from ticking off a circumnavigation from the bucket list, one of my goals is to act as a role model and provide inspiration for my grandchildren about the reality of opportunities and possibilities in life as they grow and eventually make their own way in the world. My 5 year old grandson Benny has been following the race and knows what is going on. He has a big map of the world so he can follow my journey. He keeps asking me if I have seen any pirates. I am not sure how much my 23 month old granddaughter Katelin understands about what is going on but every time we Skype, her little head keeps popping up on screen with a "Hello Nan.” I was a bit worried she would forget who I am after all this time. My newest granddaughter Kayla is only 4 months old so I haven't got to hold her yet. I am looking forward to getting back home and making up for lost time with our own little adventures.

You first heard about the Clipper Race when you saw an advert at the train station on your daily commute. What would you say now if you found yourself standing next to someone clearly fixated by an advert to join the race?

I am not sure. To race around the world is a challenge, mentally, physically, emotionally and logistically among other things. It is something you need to be well prepared for. It is an opportunity to have an experience that many people will never have and never comprehend. One needs to experience it to fully grasp it. Mother Nature is awesome and there have been many magic moments amidst the challenges and the triumphs of achievement. It is a once in a lifetime experience.