The Interview

Cambridge, 27th November 2000
One thing I did find out from one person I spoke to before the interview was that he had applied at the beginning of the year, and had been waiting all this time to have an interview. Surely if the interviews weren't carried out that frequently they had some places left?! Simon was very relaxed, and made everyone feel quite welcome. Throughout the interview he was encouraging and told occasional stories of his own experiences; he was a volunteer on the first Challenge race, a skipper on the second, and now a director of the Challenge Business.

He went around the table 3 times asking the same question to everyone each time; luckily I was in the middle opposite him, so got good notice of each question! None were too difficult, and about what I'd expected, so I felt that I had something to say for each. It was really interesting to hear what other people had to say; their stories of applying, talking to parent/wives/etc. about the whole thing. Having spent the last couple of months going through this whole process on my own, now to find myself talking to like minded people about it, hearing their point of view, was really good. However it really did make the whole thing sound a lot more realistic.

Towards the end of the interview Simon was talking about the practicalities of arranging training sails, how the procedure moves on from now forwards. He also said that, although in general about 20% of people don't make the interview stage, he couldn't see any problems with any of us. This was just after saying that he shouldn't really say this, so surely if there was a problem he wouldn't have said that - more good signs!

By the end of the interview the whole prospect of sailing around the world was looking more like reality, rather than this distant set of letters that I had received. It was quite scary really; suddenly I'd got myself into something that I really didn't know an awful lot about, and it was looking like I'd have to go through with it! For the first time I had a few doubts; could I really do it? I suppose the problem hadn't come up before, since I never really let myself think that I would be accepted. It's my way of trying to stop the process of rejection from hurting so much...

I walked back to the tube station and then back to King's Cross talking to other people from the interview; comparing notes and experiences. It was a bit strange really, to be talking to these almost complete strangers about something that I haven't told most of my friends and family yet. Then again, they might have been strangers but we all shared the same desire to go on the Challenge race.

After getting back to Cambridge I headed into the lab to read my emails, and spent a while talking to Dave, a friend of mine, about the whole challenge thing. He's one of the people that I rely on to keep me sane, especially about my PhD since he's in the same position in the lab. Talking to him, and Ben later on in the pub, was great since they are both really supportive of what I'm doing. I'll need people like that over the next few years I fear.

So that takes me up to the present day; I've now created this web site so people who know me can keep up with what's going on with my challenge, and so that people who don't know me can have a chance to participate in this great adventure. I can't promise that this journal will be a great masterpiece, or anything other than a venue for me to be able to vent my feelings about this event on the world. At the moment I'm still waiting for confirmation that I've got a place, my first training sail to find out whether I'm up to the task, starting to raise the money; so many challenges are left.