#ClipperRace - HotelPlanner.com made its debut in the Clipper 2017-18 Race and it didn’t take long to see that skipper Conall Morrison and his team of 57 crew, which included 15 different nationalities and people aged between 22 and 76, were going to fully embrace the company’s slogan of ‘bringing people together’.
From naming bunks after famous hotels to ‘Safety Sundays’, yoga on deck, and their catchy ‘Irish Rover’ team song, the HotelPlanner.com team quickly made its mark as one of the friendliest teams on the race.
However, the team was tested during Race 3, when it was forced to divert to Port Elizabeth for a medevac just days after leaving Cape Town. The unscheduled stopover did have a silver lining, though: six members of the Greenings team joined in Port Elizabeth and were warmly embraced by all on board.
HotelPlanner.com became the toast of the town in Hobart, Tasmania after winning the Clipper 70 Class of the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which doubled as Race 5. The team sealed the RSHYR win after being granted a 120-minute redress for going to the assistance of a fellow competitor shortly after race start on Boxing Day.
Adrian Hemmes, a round-the-world crew member on HotelPlanner.com, was the rescue swimmer and said at the time: “The training kicked in and everything went fast. Halyards were attached to myself and the helicopter strap and I was ready to go into the water.
“I swung myself over the railing and got hold of that orange line. Moments later, I was pulling our new, temporary crew member in, attached him to the helicopter strap and we both were hoisted out of the water. We were so prepared that we even had a blanket, some tea, and a warm sleeping bag ready for him.
“He was in a good mood and got the full HotelPlanner.com treatment – tea and cake included. Sadly, we couldn't keep our new crew member, even though he was already fitted with an orange fleece. Eventually he was put in a rubber dinghy and trailed behind, to be picked up by his former crew.”
The act didn’t go unnoticed. Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, John Markos, made special mention of HotelPlanner.com during the RSHYR prize-giving, commending the team for retrieving the man out of the water in 15 minutes.
The skipper was given a standing ovation, too, when he was given the Rani Trophy for Most Meritorious Performance, which was judged by the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Committee, and awarded by Governor of Tasmania Kate Warner.
The team was also a big hit in Qingdao after it emerged crew member Tom Parker, who completed Legs 5 and 8, had taught the team to number off in Mandarin and translated a speech from Morrison during the welcome ceremony at the Wanda Yacht Club.
The race across the North Pacific tested the entire fleet but saw HotelPlanner.com achieve one its best results.
Despite spending 28 days racing some 5,600 nautical miles across the world’s largest and most inhospitable ocean, there was just four minutes between the fourth-placed HotelPlanner.com and PSP Logistics in fifth.
Race 9 was also a chance for more fun, as Morrison explained in his Day 7 skipper blog: “I must tell you about the VHF quiz organised by our old romantic, super-bosun Nic Schellenberg. He took it upon himself to make an all-fleet call on the radio to run a gameshow over the VHF and had contestants lined up from HotelPlanner.com, Nasdaq, PSP Logistics and Visit Seattle.
“During the broadcast we were all huddled around the nav station with the on-watch all huddled around the helm VHF and hand-held set to listen to our willing bachelor Dr G’s Dulcet tones as he asked a series of questions to the four lovely ladies from each boat.”
One of the real highlights for HotelPlanner.com was the Derry-Londonderry stopover. With Morrison and round-the-world crew member Roseann McGlinchey returning home, the team was always going to make a splash, but the friendly Northern Irish city embraced and adopted the entire team. Family, friends and well-wishers cheered them in from the mouth of the River Foyle all the way into the city.
Of the welcome, round-the-world crew member Mary Frawley, from Tipperary, said: “I was really excited to arrive but this morning during our early morning watch when we saw the first glimpse of Ireland it was quite emotional.”
When the adventure finally came to an end after 11 months and 40,000 nautical miles, the bonds between the team were clear to see, with round-the-world crew member Graham Hill summing it up in his last crew blog: “I do feel this has been an amazing adventure. I could not have achieved it by myself and have been blessed to have been on a boat that has had an amazing crew.
“We always pulled together when the chips were down, to achieve the goal of getting safety from destination to destination around the world.
“We have had a lot of laughs on the way and have had to support each other through some very challenging times. We have been, to all intents and purposes, an extended family.”