By Regan Schoultz

No showers, severe sleep deprivation and no personal space for almost a year - does that sound like the adventure of a lifetime?

It does to these Kiwis.

Nine amateur New Zealand sailors will take part in the world's longest yacht race, which will see them at sea for weeks at a time facing some of the harshest weather on the planet - all with only a month's training behind them.


The 2017/18 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which takes off from Liverpool in the UK today, is a 40,000 nautical mile race in which12 18m yachts cross six oceans.

The race is divided into eight legs and competitors can complete the full circumnavigation, which takes about 11 months, or do individual legs. Three New Zealanders will compete in all eight legs.

Greg Glover, a 56-year-old Hamilton farmer, said learning the ropes on the boat during four weeks of comprehensive training was "a whole new experience".

"Suddenly the boat was leaning at a 45 degree angle and I was thinking, holy hell, this is a completely foreign feeling.

"Everything was foreign, it was like a foreign language.

"It took me a little while to figure out where everything is but it has got a lot better after four weeks. It is starting to make sense."

A typical day on the boat consists of two teams rotating between working on the deck, cooking and cleaning below deck or sleeping.

Racing 24/7, most boats will follow a cycle of six-hour shifts during the day and four-hour shifts at night, meaning each person only gets about three and a half hours of continuous sleep at any time during the night.

"The first couple of days [of the training] was easy but after three or four days of waking up at three in the morning for a 3-7am watch your sleep deprivation starts accumulating," Glover said.

"When you do go to bed you go into a deep sleep. All of a sudden you are out and then someone is waking you up for the watch and you have no idea where you are or what's going on."

Alexandra Hare, a 34-year-old Wellington business manager, said there will be times when the race will be "overwhelmingly beautiful" and times when competitors will "hit a wall".

"Maybe you are missing your loved ones back home or you are just fatigued. There will be all sorts of human elements, but overall it will be an awesome experience."

Under sail the yacht heels to one side, typically at 45 degrees, depending on the winds. This means life below deck is nearly always at an angle.

Sustainability specialist Steve Schoultz, who is competing in the first four legs, said this was one of the toughest things to get used to.

"People don't comprehend how difficult it can be, particularly on a rougher sea, going about daily tasks when everything is at an extreme angle. From cooking a meal for 22 people through to going to the toilet, everything is much harder.

"Just getting from one side of the boat to the other becomes like a mountain climbing exercise."

To account for the angle, the oven is on a gimbal, which means it can remain level, and the bunk beds have a pulley system that allows crew to adjust the angle.

"There is also a lee cloth, which is a piece of canvas on the side to stop you falling out of your bunk if the boat suddenly changes tack," Schoultz said.

As for personal hygiene, the 50-year-old said keeping clean is crucial to avoid illness and infection.

"There is a strong focus on cleanliness. We will be using a lot of wet wipes and will occasionally have the opportunity to wash ourselves with a small hand-held shower or in the rain on deck.

"Mostly, though, people don't change their clothes for at least a week so many of us use merino gear to cope with this. One of the boats last year had 'clean undie Sundays', where everyone had to change their underwear."

The intensive regime means each crew member will burn around 5000 calories a day, making nutrition a key factor of the race. As each boat has limited supplies, daily meals are planned very carefully before each journey.

The first leg of the competition will see the teams race from Liverpool in the UK to Uruguay in South America - almost 10,000km. It will take at least 35 days, depending on weather conditions.

From there the teams head to Cape Town in South Africa before embarking on the third leg to Fremantle in Western Australia, facing the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean.

The fourth leg to Airlie Beach in Eastern Australia includes the iconic Sydney to Hobart race.

The Asia-Pacific leg takes the teams from Eastern Australia to Qingdao in China, followed by the Mighty Pacific leg to Seattle in the United States. From there the race continues through the Panama Canal to New York and then back to the UK.

After completing a full loop around the globe, the teams will finish the race in Liverpool in July 2018 where one of the 12 will be awarded the Clipper Race Trophy.