Inspirational circumnavigator encourages pupils to never do anything by halves

The Hawthorns School in Surrey welcomed amateur crew member Philippa O’Sullivan, who conquered six ocean crossings to circumnavigate the world in the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht race to school this week.

Image Description

13th February 2019 — The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other. It is the only round the world yacht race that is crewed by amateurs, many of whom like Philippa had no previous sailing experience. Philippa put her career in advertising on hold to complete all eight legs of the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Yacht race, covering 40,000 nautical miles in a journey that took 11 months, longer than an academic school year.

Philippa showed the children videos of life on board the yacht. To facilitate the children’s understanding of how tricky life can be living at an angle, where you had to be strapped into your bunk to sleep, she asked volunteers to stand on a wobble cushion and try to put on her bad weather all-in-one kit. How the children struggled!

Children were intrigued that she only ever had 4 hours sleep in one stretch and that to save space on board, another member of the crew slept in her bunk bed whilst she was crewing on deck.

The power of Mother Nature was brought home by Philippa’s description of some of the waves she encountered being as high as 10 double decker buses. Philippa described the feeling of isolation when they were in the middle of the Southern Ocean and the closest people to the yacht were on board the space station, rather than on land.

Philippa’s final words were taken from Roald Dahl’s book Matilda and encouraged the children to “never do anything by halves”.

Image Description

About The Hawthorns School

The Hawthorns is a thriving, prep school for girls and boys aged 2 to 13 in Bletchingley, Surrey, just 30 minutes from central London.  Set within 35 idyllic acres of county estate, Hawthorns children are given the time and space they need to enjoy their childhood. This day school supports busy parents by offering wraparound childcare from 7.15am to 6.00pm during term-time, as well as all year round holiday clubs.

Find out more

Related stories