Inside De Lage Landen’s Round the World Clipper Entry: Q&A with DLL’s Bill StephensenBy Abigail Sutton
The Round the World Clipper Race is the only sailing race in the world that allows non-professional sailors to compete in an around the world yacht race. This year ten teams are participating. De Lage Landen is currently in eighth place, with a crew of 8 staff members representing the company from 35 countries. Just last week, the crew was in second place, so things can change quickly on the high seas, there is still a lot of racing to be had until the finish line. The race began in August of last year and is now at the last leg, leg 8 of the journey. This leg goes from New York to Nova Scotia, then to Ireland and finally, London—a voyage that will take 22 days. From ages 18-64 the crew covers all professions from students to attorneys.
I spoke with Bill Stephensen, Chairman of the Global Vendor Finance Division and member of the Executive Board at DLL while he was in NY, getting ready to ship off the crewmembers on their last leg.
Why did DLL choose to participate in the Clipper Race this year?
DLL is a global brand. We are represented in 35 countries—soon to be 37. Our members work hard and support our customers 100%. We wanted to be apart of something larger, so we picked the Clipper. From a global perspective it’s the perfect opportunity.
What drives staff to participate?
We gave our employees the what, but left them with figuring out the how. Our staff is proud of the countries they represent and the chance to showcase their DLL office with pride, adventure and accomplishment. Awareness and pride are two major factors. We settled on 8 crewmembers from the hundreds of essays written from our staff on why they’d make the best representation of our company.
How dangerous is the voyage?
Safety is the number one priority, but this is absolutely a dangerous adventure. They are dealing with 40,000 miles of ocean and up to 20-foot waves. The leg crossing the Pacific from China was one of the most treacherous with 18-foot waves during the winter months. Sixty percent of our crew had never been on a boat before! The staff work at four-hour shifts, so they have four hours on and four hours off, thus no one gets more than four hours of sleep at a time. It’s absolutely hard work. They really rely on each other for support and morale.
Training consisted of 4 weeks of bootcamp on the English Channel in the early spring. The bootcamp consisted of on the boat training and sailing theory and guidelines.
How does this race impact employee morale?
The race has encouraged and garnered a lot of enthusiasm and motivation. There’s a live website on the race that you can follow and members are blogging from the boats. At each port there are events that take place and our customers have come out to support us. It’s a great celebration and competition – truly a memorable experience including the entire world. As well as a memorable and once-in-a-lifetime competition for our employees and our company.
To follow the Clipper Race online visit: http://clipperroundtheworld.com