BASES’ Non-Executive Director to sail across the mighty North Pacific in memory of friend
21st March 2022
This week, Susan Went, one of our Non-Executive Directors, will embark on the challenge of crossing the North Pacific Ocean as crew on the Clipper Race, in memory of her good friend Chrissie Jackson, who had hoped to sail across this ocean but sadly lost her life to cancer last year.
The Clipper Race is one of the biggest challenges in the natural world, training people from diverse walks of life to race across the world’s oceans without any prior sailing experience. On 20 March 2022, the 2019-20 edition restarted, and Race Crew from 21 different countries set sail across the North Pacific to Seattle from Subic Bay, Philippines.
Known as ‘the big one,’ crew will race through intense conditions, encounter high winds and surf down huge waves, covering approximately 6,100 nautical miles over the course of 27-32 days.
Chrissie Jackson was a Clipper 2017-18 Race crew member known for her sunny personality and was close to the hearts of everyone at the Clipper Race. Chrissie sadly became ill just before the Pacific Leg was due to start in March 2018, and was unable to sail in the race, so her good friend and fellow crew member Susan Went stepped in to help her fulfil her dream. After a two-year postponement of the sailing event due to COVID-19, Susan and her teammates on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam started their journey towards the North Pacific later on Sunday (20 March 2022).
Describing Chrissie, Susan said: “She had a magnetic personality, so a lot of people on the race knew and loved her dearly. She was due to sail on the Pacific Leg in 2018, however, she became unwell just before the leg started and was admitted to hospital. Tragically, the race had to go on without her, so she waved the boat off with her brilliant smile still in place despite her disappointment.”
Chrissie underwent many tests and hospital visits over the rest of that year and in January 2019, she was told she had Stage 4 terminal cancer. The diagnosis was a massive blow to her future plans and ambitions. However, using the determination, stamina and courage she needed to compete in the Clipper Race, Chrissie faced her treatment head-on. She went on to create special challenges, ‘Chemo in Cool Places’ and ‘Trials in Style’ - gaining national attention from the press and people in similar situations and spreading inspiration with her positive mentality.
Susan continued: “Everyone that knew Chrissie will tell you that she had the most infectious smile and the most positive attitude to life. Whilst unwell, she developed a way of bringing that fantastic, go-getting attitude to everything that she did. Chemo in Cool Places brought us to amazing places like the Lifeboat Station in London and Tower Bridge. Goodness knows how many places we travelled to just to connect with Chrissie, and each time she would take her chemo and share it as part of her campaign to inspire others.”
Chrissie also raised over £60,000 through her charitable initiative, Chrissie’s Sunshine Appeal, with the help of her family and friends from all over the world. Her dream of crossing the North Pacific still remained, but sadly this was not possible with her diagnosis.
Susan explained: “We spent a lot of time together and became extremely close friends. Chrissie and I came up with a solution: I said that I would do the Leg 6 race for her. So, with the help of the team at the Clipper Race, I joined CV26 (the same boat number which Chrissie sailed on in 2018), on Leg 6, to be Chrissie, and help her to fulfil the dream that was so close to her heart.”
Throughout 2019, Chrissie and Susan spent time together preparing and planning for the race. Chrissie helped with the packing and hid small gifts and photos in Susan’s bag for her to find on board. It was hugely disappointing for everyone when the plan to sail across the Pacific was interrupted, this time by the COVID-19 pandemic which postponed the race, with the fleet remaining in Subic Bay, and crew returning home.
Chrissie and Susan remained close during the pandemic, continuing to plan for the North Pacific Crossing, once the race could resume. Chrissie sadly died in July 2021 and is sorely missed by everybody who knew her. Although she will not see the restart of the race, and despite all of the setbacks and disappointments, Chrissies’ family and Susan are even more determined to complete her dream.
Susan explained the emotion she carries, but determination to complete the leg: “In the period of time between the postponement and the race restarting, we’ve lost Chrissie. So she won’t be able to see this particular start and finish, but I’m just thrilled to be able to do this for Chrissie and for her family, who so passionately want to see her dream fulfilled. As I get ready to start the race, I know that Chrissie would say, sail with style, and I know that she will be with me when I cross the North Pacific.”
Click link for interview with Susan.
Click for photos
UNICEF UK is the Clipper Race’s charity partner.
Susan Went is fundraising for Unicef UK (justgiving.com)
Chrissie’s special charity is the Sunshine Appeal, a collection of local Cornish charities which meant the world to Chrissie.
FOLLOW THE RACE AND SUPPORT THE CREW
You can track the fleet online via the Race Viewer, and follow every moment of the journey as teams race across the North Pacific and back home. You can also join the Clipper Race Crew Supporters group on Facebook here.