Gemma Roberts.jpg
Jun 2014

Just before the end of Race 14, we caught up with PSP Logistics' bow chick and halfway round the worlder (Leg 5, 6, 7 and 8) Gemma Roberts, a Barrister from the UK.

We understand you're the 'bow chick' on board. Normally the domain of the testosterone-fuelled blokes, what attracts you to the pointy end and tell us some of the things that have gone through your mind as you're repeatedly plunged into the waves mid sail change?

The pointy end of the boat is where all of the fun is had and there is no way I would let the blokes have it all! One of the reasons why I decided to do the Clipper Race was to feel the power of the weather and the ocean, particularly when the sea is rough and gales are blowing. The bow is the best place to really experience the elements; waves crashing over our heads, the wind so strong you can't stand up and have to crawl on all fours…brilliant fun! At times it feels like we are doing battle against Mother Nature. The bow is also physically the toughest place to be and as someone who doesn't shy away from a challenge, I have rather enjoyed stepping up and holding my own with the (male) brawn on the boat.

Lastly, to work efficiently and safely on the bow requires excellent team work from the 3 or 4 people working there; so when working on the bow I get a great sense of trust and teamwork with my fellow crew mates.

Prior to the Clipper Race, you mentioned your dream would be to retire and own a yacht in Majorca one day. Having spent the best part of 6 months on board a stripped down 70ft ocean racing yacht, is this still a dream and if so, what key features would your boat have to offer?

After 6 months on the boat, I'm pleased to say that I still dream of owning a yacht. I'm not sure that I will be content with the relatively benign conditions off Majorca though and suspect that I will be seeking out bigger seas and less well charted territory. I also suspect that I will be looking for a little bit more luxury than we have on board the good ship PSP Logistics. High on the list of 'must haves' is running hot and cold water. We have a cold tap, which delivers fresh water in the galley and salt water to the heads (after a month at sea, the lack of shower facilities becomes noxiously obvious). Proper flushable toilets will also feature on my boat. Nautical loos work well enough but when heeled over at an angle, they have a horrible habit of regurgitating their contents onto the next user. Having helmed a lot in the cold weather, I think a heated steering wheel would be a good idea too. Last and by no means least, a very well stocked booze fridge (all of the Clipper Race boats are dry, which is torture when the sun is dipping in the sky and the conditions are crying out for a G&T or a cold beer or two). Oh, and a large motor and large fuel reserve for when those wind-holes appear!