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Gavin Reid (01-06) Round the World Yachtsman

I have always been an active/practical person who enjoyed being outdoors. I had always said that I didn’t want to work behind a desk and ended up working behind one for two years! I decided to do something much more challenging and exciting. My father heard about ‘The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’ on the radio and it was perfectly timed with how I was feeling about my working life so I signed up despite having little sailing experience! 

I had done a week of topper sailing when younger but that was no preparation for the race. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the race except that it was going to be tough. The only preparation (outside of the four weeks of compulsory training) was to sort myself out with some decent hearing aids so I could wear them in a wet environment. It’s tough to mentally prepare yourself for an event that you have no experience of before, but I just went into it with an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in and learn everything that I possibly could.

In Race 6 of the 14-stage race we got a distress call off the East coast of Australia about a man trapped up a mast so we suspended our racing and went to their aid. Our skipper asked for a volunteer and I put myself forward on account of my experience of going up the mast before. As the water was far too choppy to align the two boats I had to jump overboard with a throwing line tied to me so the other boat could pull me in. I kept my hearing aids inside my dry suit as I didn’t want to test them fully in the water, I think they are more ‘splash proof’ than ‘dunk proof’. They didn’t prove particularly useful as I couldn’t quite hear either of the crew on the deck or the man up the mast. It didn’t turn out to be a huge problem as we used a lot on non-verbal communication to untangle the trapped man. I was shortlisted for the 2016 YJA Yachtsman of the Year, and Young Sailor of the Year Award. 

Merchiston produced many successful sports teams, that came about from working hard, respecting each other and good leadership. Having performed in many sports since a young age I found it much easier to transfer these skills over to the tough environment on the boat.

I studied English Literature at Lancaster University because of how much I enjoyed English at Merchiston and I remember my English teachers, Mr Williams and Dr Mortimer, having a big impact on that decision. Mr Caves was also my rugby and cricket coach for several years at school, ensuring that we had fun as well as coaching a competitive team (we had two seasons of unbeaten cricket!

Merchiston gave me the chance to develop as a rounded individual in many areas so that I could adapt to any challenges that came up. I have taken my passion for sports and competition from Merchiston and it has ensured that I have always looked to enjoy a new challenge regardless of what it is.