Stranded Brit opts for wild ride home aboard UK-bound racing yacht

Stranded Brit Lee Brock took up an offer to spend 22 days aboard a racing yacht in an effort to get back to the UK as the global Covid-19 crisis thwarted his travel plans.

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The man spent nearly 22 days at sea on the Telefonica Black. Source: BBC

After flights in Antigua were put on hold due to coronavirus travel restrictions, Brock found himself scrambling for ideas to get home.

“The airport closed, a lot of people couldn’t afford the flights, so it then turned into a ‘right, how are we getting out of here?’ kind of situation.” 

Thankfully Brock found a way home after accepting an offer to be a crew member on a 12-man racing yacht scheduled to sail to European shores.

That despite Brock only having sailed once before.

The racing yacht, named Telefonica Black, had a deadline to be back in European waters to avoid the hurricane season, but clients who had booked to be on the journey back were unable to make it to Antigua to start the voyage.   

Skipper Lance Shepherd, a professional trainer for sailors, extended a proposal to those stranded in Antigua with an opportunity to learn new skills and make it back to the UK.

“We had to get the boat back into European waters by the first of may because of insurance restrictions with the hurricane season and the clients we had booked to fly out to Antigua to sail back with us couldn’t get out because of the cancellation of flights.” said Shepherd.

“So we put a shout out for people where everyday was a teaching day all about sail trim, sailing handling and everything else and developed the crew all the way across, and by the time we got the bad weather they were well shaped into quite a formidable crew to be honest.”

As would be expected, the journey wasn't all smooth sailing as Brock sustained a bloody nose and at one point was violently thrown from the helm when contending with nine metre waves and ripped sails.

But the arduous journey seems to have sparked sense of fondness for maritime adventure with Brock claiming the 4800km journey home has inspired him to become a sailor.

"I think he's created a sailing monster out of me because I want to become a sailor now," he said.