MEET THE CLIPPER FLEET
TRACY Charles is standing on the dock at Abell Point Marina, her eyes cast seaward, waiting for her husband John Charles and the boat GREAT
Since the Clipper fleet left Hobart she has been glued to the race tracker. She can only imagine about conditions on board and how her husband has been fairing.
Circumnavigating the globe had been on his bucket list since he retired. She was happy to support him but said it had been an “emotional rollercoaster”.
“This is the first time in our 30 years’ together that (he is on) an adventure without (me),” she said.
But her husband’s voyage has also catapulted Ms Charles into a journey of her own she never expected to make.
Along the way she has travelled and shared accommodation with other wives and girlfriends of sailors in pursuit of the Clipper race.
“We understand what we are all going through,” she said.
“Whether it be happy or sad or fear, it’s one of those things you really bond over.”
Ms Charles has experienced all these emotions and more. On Leg One of the race from London to Rio De Janeiro, Mr Charles was up the mast fixing stays on the halyard when a big wave hit the yacht.
“It basically flicked him out, he was smashed on the mast like a rag doll,” she said.
Spending the reminder of the leg below deck, he then faced four days in a Rio hospital and had two major surgeries. The surgeon said he was lucky to be alive – the laceration had missed his artery by four millimetres.
Mr Charles re-joined the race in Albany, West Australia.
Back on the dock on Sunday night, Ms Charles picks Great
Britain’s navigation lights in the distance and her heart races a bit faster. Reunited, the couple will enjoy time together in Airlie Beach before saying farewell again when the fleet leaves the Whitsundays and Australia for Vietnam on , January 18.
REUNITED: Tracy and John Charles enjoy a hug after Race 6 in Airlie Beach.