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Deaf sailor Gavin Reid on his big adventure

PUBLISHED: 09:59 08 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:59 08 November 2016

Gavin Reid from North Devon set sail on the tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015-16

Gavin Reid from North Devon set sail on the tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015-16


Gavin Reid didn’t let deafness, nor an unfamiliarity with boats, deter him when he set sail on the tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015-16

Gavin texts to fix up a time to talk from his well-earned seat in a Bideford pub.After an epic 11 months circumnavigation of the globe, clocking up 40,000 nautical miles, in capricious conditions from hurricanes to sub-zero and blistering temperatures, he is settling into life as a landlubber once again. Reid has been deaf from birth and had virtually no sailing experience before taking on the feat, yet neither impinged upon his competence aboard the Mission Performance.

Indeed, the 28-year-old from North Devon was recognised with the event’s seamanship award for his courage, when he selflessly volunteered to leap into the notorious Bass Strait off the coast of southern Australia, at 4am. Reid was towed 150ft to a stricken vessel before climbing its 65ft mast where he spent two hours helping to free, and possibly save the life of, an exhausted crewman - in a force 11 storm.

“The hoists were stuck, so he couldn’t go up or down and I could only get up half way up the mast, from where I tried to help him untwist them,” recalls Reid. “But because the waves were so big the boat kept bumping up and down and they kept getting re-tangled. When we finally managed to get him down, he was exhausted. It could have ended far worse, but I didn’t think about that, I saw it as something I had to do.”

Reid tells me the fact he is deaf was only an impairment at night, when he asked his crewmates to wear glow in the dark lipstick so he could lip read: “The first couple of races were difficult, before everything became familiar when I was learning how everything worked.

“Night time was very difficult too, because it was hard to communicate with the others – the lipstick idea didn’t really work as kept washing off!”

The son of an Army Colonel, Reid grew up all over the world, but is happy to call Devon home, although the race has only bolstered his travel bug; but his next adventure will most likely involve his Salcombe girlfriend Kat Law, 26, who he met on the race. Reid says one of the most wonderful moments of the whole trip was sailing away from Cape Town in the midst of a pod of around 15 hump back whales. He says one of the most terrifying was also off the coast of South Africa where the crew spent around 11 relentless hours trying to get their boat under control in 80 knots of wind.

“I’ve always wanted to have a big adventure and explore the world,” adds Reid, whose last job was working for an international development company. “It’s in my blood. So when I heard about the Clipper, I’d signed up within a week. It was a very unique way of seeing the world!”

Gavin Reid from North Devon, didn’t let deafness, nor an unfamiliarity with boats deter him when he set sail on the tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015-16Gavin Reid from North Devon, didn’t let deafness, nor an unfamiliarity with boats deter him when he set sail on the tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015-16

The Clipper

The tenth biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, took place from August 2015 until July, 2016

The event raised almost £240,000 for Unicef

The race is for amateur sailors and this year involved 690 crew members from 44 different countries, from all walks of life, aged between 19 and 75 years old

The Mission Performance had a crew of between 14 and 22

Crews were split up into two watches who take on rotating, six-hour shifts

Two team members will look after the Mother Watch; 24-hour cooking duty

The race involved 14 races over eight legs; the first leg was London to Rio de Janeiro

More people have climbed Mount Everest than completed the Clipper


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