‘Like another planet’: Longview man competes in round-the-world sailing race | Local News

A lifelong love of travel led a Longview man to chart a course that recently saw him partially sail around the world in a biennial yacht race.

Chris Travis, an occupational therapist at Parkview on Hollybrook in Longview, said his fondness for travel and the ocean started at an early age.

“My dad spent 20 years in the Navy,” he said. “We were living in Italy at the time, and my first memories are of getting on a boat to go to stewardship. When we came back to the States, we lived on both coasts, so I had time on the water.

It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, when a friend bought a small catamaran, that Travis said he was truly exposed to sailing.

“We tried to get out on Laguna Madre near South Padre to figure out how the sails worked,” he said. “We literally knew nothing, but I absolutely fell in love with it.”

After taking sailing lessons, Travis learned that in order to be able to sail to the destinations he wanted, he had to get certified. So he started taking many certification courses through the American Sailing Association.

“The world doesn’t really recognize the ASA as an occupational standard, but rather as a recreational standard,” he said. “But the Royal Yachting Association is the benchmark and standard for professional sailing worldwide.”

After realizing the difference, Travis said he started following the Royal Yachting Association’s Yacht Master program. Once completed, he will be able to charter just about anywhere in the world, and that, he says, is his goal.

It was then that he first heard of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

“It just fell in my lap, and I said, ‘What is this? “Travis said

Conceived in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a biennial 40,000 nautical mile race around the world that takes paying amateur crews on one or more legs of a circumnavigation of the globe in 11 specially designed yachts 70 foot offshore racer designed.

“I did an interview and started the selection process,” he said. “Then four weeks of training in (UK), and I was successful in one of the racing teams.”

Travis competed as a crew member aboard the Zhuhai Racing Team Yacht on two of the race’s eight legs.

“The full circumnavigation is very expensive,” he said. “But a lot of people do this as their lifelong dream or they want that experience that they can never forget.”

Travis said he enjoyed meeting and working with the other crew members who represented the cultures of 40 other countries.

“Many times I was the only American on board,” he said, “but we were all just a bunch of people who like to sail.”

Travis said he was proud when other crew members said they felt safe with an American on board.

“They said, ‘We feel good there’s an American on the boat because we know that if something goes wrong, America won’t leave any of its people stranded,'” a- he declared. “It was a really cool moment for me to know that people from outside our country recognized him.

Beginning on the third leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Travis and his teammates left South Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, then over 5,000 miles east to the west coast of Australia.

Travis said that although he lost 17 pounds on his first leg of the race and 20 on the last, he never felt like quitting – but there were times when he was absolutely miserable .

“The Southern Ocean is a very dangerous place,” he said. “There are many ways to get hurt, so you have to keep your head straight. You have to constantly think about what you’re doing, and it’s incredibly physically taxing. And, it’s incredibly cold – I’ve never been so cold. I was in a drysuit with four layers of merino wool underneath, and was still freezing with the crashing waves.

Travis said that during training a man lost his thumb in a winch. Two other crew members were injured on another leg of the race when waves from a major storm threw a man into a winch, fracturing several ribs and puncturing a lung. This man was also thrown into another, breaking his shoulder.

Travis did a lot of the steering or driving the boat.

“It’s very physical,” he said. “There’s no power steering, and it’s not like driving a car. You have to anticipate movement, especially during storms, and we’ve had a lot of storms,” ​​he said. “Two days up close Category 1 hurricane winds and even gusts of up to 82 knots (94 mph). It’s like being picked up and dropped off somewhere else like a bath toy.

At other times, the crew risked being caught in wind holes.

“We spent 18 hours in a wind hole off Australia. You have nice clear skies but no breeze, so you’re just baking in the sun,” Travis said. “Everyone just seeks shade wherever they can find it.”

The final leg of Travis’ journey was the final leg of the 4,400-mile race – the “Atlantic Homecoming” leg from the US east coast to the UK.

“Sailing in Northern Ireland (Londonderry) is one of the highlights of my life now,” he said. “There is about a mile and a half of beachfront and 250,000 people showed up to greet us. We wore red racing wristbands around our wrists, and they were like the keys to the city. People were really nice to us. Often we couldn’t even pay for things.

Travis said families would spend their days showing crew members around the area and even allowing them to stay in their homes rather than having to secure hotel rooms.

Since returning, Travis has made it his goal to make an Atlantic crossing alone or perhaps with just one other person.

“I love to explore. I love going out. I love travel,” he said. “I’m a single dad with two daughters, and as they come out of the nest, I plan to go overseas more and more, to start sailing.”

“The sun goes down. the wildlife. the seals, the dolphins, the birds,” Travis said when asked what he would miss most about sailing. , and it’s 3,000 miles in any direction, but there’s tiny little birds, and you’re like, ‘How the hell did they get here?’

“The Southern Ocean glows at night. You can’t see your hand in front of your face, but the ocean is lit up with bioluminescence – it’s like being on another planet. It’s just beautiful. In the southern hemisphere, there are more stars in the night sky. It’s like looking at a photograph from the Hubble telescope. These are the things I want to show people.

“I will miss the people the most and the cold the least.”

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