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The tough existence

by | Feb 6, 2015 | Personal Stories - Blogs

In 2013, Malcolm became a crew member for 2 legs of the Clipper Round the World Race, sailing from San Francisco to the UK via New York and raising money for charities tackling a type of cancer that touched his family. The challenge involved a distance of 9500 miles in conditions that was extremely testing. Read his story here.

George Wilford, 57, died in 2006 having been diagnosed with kidney cancer. George was a 16 stone dairy farmer, married to my sister and he was my best man. He was a very strong, powerful man who had a very sensitive and thoughtful side. My wife always comments on how gently he hugged her when we met up.
I spent many hours, days and weeks at the farm in my spare time, working with the animals, driving tractors, building a barn and helping stage clay pigeon shoots and had a close bond with George. I was devastated to lose him as a brother-in-law and friend.
In 1998, two friends and I decided to attempt the Three Peaks Challenge, (Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon in 24 hours). We needed a driver and George was only too pleased to help out as he loved driving and we had the loan of a Range Rover. He did a brilliant job and was truly part of our success.
Following his death, we decided to try it again, some ten years after the first attempt and two years after George passed away. This time his son drove us and we dedicated our effort to George’s memory. At that time, there were few charities dedicated to kidney cancer, but I found one and we sought sponsorship and donated a healthy sum to that charity.
Since that time, two other family members have succumbed to cancer, my father with prostate cancer and our nephew with bowel cancer at 32.
featuredgalleryfront_Malcolm EvansHaving been a person who likes to undertake challenges, I sought an entry into the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2013-14. This is the only race of its type for amateurs, with 40% of the crews never having sailed before. The company that stages the race is headed by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first solo non-stop circumnavigator.
I had a little sailing experience, but having been accepted as one of only 650 crew members from around the world, I underwent a strenuous and extensive training programme and was assigned to the Team Switzerland boat. The race comprises 12 matched 70ft racing yachts sailing over 40,000 miles. The race is divided into 8 legs and you can be a full circumnavigator or just take part in different legs.
I elected to take part in legs 7 and 8. This meant that I raced from San Francisco to Panama to Jamaica to New York to Northern Ireland to Holland and finally into London for the race finish, some 10,140 nautical miles over a period of 3 months.
Malcolm evans P4There are no comforts on board. You hot bunk with another crew member and because of the watch (shift) system, the longest I ever slept was four and a half hours and this was only once. Personal hygiene is carried out using your daily ration of six wet wipes. No walk in showers here!
The weather conditions varied from the tropical heat when temperatures down below could exceed 40 degrees C to sub zero when on iceberg spotting duty in the North Atlantic.
The work on deck can be very physical, the sea can throw you around and many people suffered badly from seasickness.
Perhaps the biggest test was living in very close proximity to 19 other team mates with privacy being a very rare commodity.
So I thought it would be good to try and raise some money for charity, not based on miles sailed or time taken, but just in acknowledgement of the tough existence for 3 months. I then chose a charity to represent the three cancers that had affected my family.
When I came to kidney cancer, I was delighted to see that there were more charities in existence than in 2006 and decided to support the Kidney Cancer UK. I have undertaken a number of talks about the race and continue to do this, asking for donations rather than being paid expenses. I will continue to do so as long as people want to hear about the experience and will continue to make donations to the Kidney Cancer UK alongside the two other charities I support.
Thank you for allowing me to tell you about George and my big challenge. If anyone would like to hear more about the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, please contact me at

To follow Malcolm story, please visit his blog here. He continues to raise money for the charities he supports by taking collections at presentations he continues to give about his experience.

<a href="" target="_self">Malcolm Packer</a>

Malcolm Packer

Malcolm is Chief Executive Officer at Kidney Cancer UK and Kidney Cancer Scotland and has worked with the charity in various capacities for over 15 years.