Garmin is proud to be the exclusive marine electronics and action camera sponsor for the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Race. We spoke with Garmin skipper Ashley Skett to learn more about his passion for sailing and what made him want to become a skipper for the Clipper Race, which takes one year to complete.
Garmin: Which leg of the race are you looking forward to most?
Ashley Skett: Leg three, which traverses the Southern Ocean. It’s starts in Cape Town, South Africa and goes all the way to Western Australia. That leg is notorious for massive seas, large waves and downwind sailing. It’s one ocean that I’ve always aspired to experience.
Which leg do you believe will be the most challenging?
North Pacific - Leg six, where we travel from China to Seattle, will be the most challenging due to the sheer length of it, as it can take up to five weeks to complete. The challenge there will be massive. Five weeks is quite a long time! The weather can be very unpredictable there, and it’s very difficult to say what kind of conditions we’ll get. It will probably be pretty cold as well, especially as we head north towards Seattle. I think it will be an excellent achievement to make such a large crossing, which is the main reason I’m looking forward to that leg, but it will be very challenging as well.
When did you begin sailing?
I started sailing as a career about 8 years ago, but I did some dinghy sailing when I was very young, and that helped build my passion the sport. Unfortunately, due to the location where I grew up, there wasn’t steady access to sailing opportunities. I followed a different career path for a few years, but came back to sailing because it just felt right and that’s when I decided I wanted to do it as a career.
What made you want to become a skipper in the Clipper Race?
I was at the Clipper Race for a few years as a training instructor, so I would train the crews to prepare them for the race. Their enthusiasm and passion for the race was quite infectious, so the more I learned about their experiences and aspirations for the race, the more excited I was to do it. Plus, sailing around the world is a massive challenge and there aren’t many opportunities to be a skipper in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. I’m always looking for a new challenge, so this was a very unique experience that I just couldn’t pass up.
What do you love most about sailing?
It’s an amazing feeling when you get everything just right. When you’re sailing down big waves, it’s quite exhilarating, but on the flipside, sailing can be very relaxing when the seas are calm and water is flat. I particularly enjoy the technical aspects of it as well, such as fine-tuning the sail settings to achieve maximum boat speed. There are just so many different ways you can tweak the sail to go faster.
How will Garmin electronics help you during the race?
We have a plethora of Garmin electronics on board. We have a GPSMAP chartplotter and multiple GMI and GNX series marine instruments both above and below deck. The way we’ve been using them is to display as much information about the boat as possible. I particularly enjoy the way you can set up multiple displays at once. For example, on the helm, I can put my boat speed, speed over ground (SOG), depth and also my waypoint information all on one screen. It’s very easy to customize and I particularly enjoy tweaking the instruments to get them just right.
How have you used Garmin electronics in preparation for the race, as far as looking at the mapping to find the best course/routes to take?
Yes, I have produced routes on the chartplotter along with the waypoints, and then feed the information to the instruments up on deck. That way, the helm can follow the course that I’ve set. Basically, I set a bearing to the waypoint and the helm will try to keep the course over ground (COG), which is also shown on a Garmin instrument. I can also put cross track error, which is the amount off course. If I need the helm to hold the course in relation to the wind as opposed to a waypoint I marked, then it’s very easy to change as well. The chartplotter is very useful for routing, but I also really like the weather overlays, which are very easy to read.