It's that time of the race when the round the worlders start to reflect on their journey so far and the reality of life after Clipper rears its ugly head. Here we catch up with Ursula Stroh, a Brand and Communications Manager from Sydney, Australia, born in South Africa.
To date where has been your favourite stop on the race and why?
That's a really difficult choice to make. Every port had something special. Rio had its vibrancy and good food. Cape Town was very significant for me because I saw my dad there for the last time ten days before he passed away while we were fighting the Southern Ocean. South Africa is also my birth country, so it was nice to visit some special spots and speak my mother tongue.
In Albany the rugged beauty of the coast line and secluded beaches enticed me to want to go back there one day. Sydney is where I lived before the race and where home has been for the last thirteen years. The Rolex Sydney Hobart was a dream sailing experience, so arriving in Hobart as part of a crew was truly a highlight.
Brisbane had some great museums to visit and I had a couple of my close friends visit me there, which left me with valuable memories of that stopover. I was treated by other wonderful friends during an unexpected brief stopover in Hong Kong.
When I was about thirteen years old I had to prepare a speech for school on any subject I chose and my mum suggested that I scan our collection of National Geographic for something interesting. I delivered my speech on the Panama Canal and since then have always wanted to visit this fascinating man made wonder of the world. It was so rewarding to fulfill a childhood dream.
Jamaica was probably up there on the list of favourite stopovers for a few reasons: I have never been there, it was longer than any other stopover, which gave us all much needed time to recover and rest, and I spent my time with incredible people in an environment as close to paradise as one could be. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon, walking the long stretches of beach, staying in a serviced villa with beautiful views and dancing, laughing and touring around with fellow crew will go in my life's best moments album. I loved every minute of this stopover.
We'll have to see what the next stopovers offer, but I am looking forward to see if they can top this list.
In your pre-race interview, you said it was extremely unlikely you'd end up back behind a computer at the end of the race. As you approach the final stages, what thoughts have you had about the next challenge post the Clipper Race?
I have to admit that I still have no idea at all what my life post Clipper Race will look like. I am in the envious position that I am completely free to write the storyline of the next chapter of my life with whatever plot I choose. It is still unlikely that I will end up behind a computer screen and I am convinced that the next chapter will be in intriguing read. Through my Clipper Race experience I have made some interesting and incredible friends who will surely play important characters...it will have to be quite a challenge though. How can you top the Clipper Race experience!