Clipper Race Update: Introducing Dell Ambassador Marek Omilian

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This is the second in a series of blogs by Dell Ambassadors competing in the Clipper Race, a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world in 70-foot racing yachts. The first post from Samantha Harper can be found here on Direct2Dell. For more background on Dell’s involvement, read our initial blog about this exciting race here.

Clipper ship Visit Seattle at sail

The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1: Liverpool, UK, to Punta del Este, Uruguay: 6,400 nautical miles: 34 days

I was very excited at the Crew Allocation Day when I found out I would be sailing on Visit Seattle with Nikki Henderson, who at 24-years old, is the youngest Skipper in the history of the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race.

My excitement must have made impression on Nikki, because a few days later she asked me to be the Team Coordinator (TC), aka Chief of Staff; aka Executive Assistant to the Skipper. I quickly realized the job required a lot of planning and data management, i.e. access to a computer on and off the boat. Off the boat may be easy, as I could transport a laptop in a drybag, but on the boat, with moisture and salt water everywhere, it was going to be a challenge.

So, I was very pleased to find out that Dell Rugged was a partner of the race, and was providing rugged laptops for the use on the boat and by media crew. I was thrilled when I was selected one of the Dell Crew Ambassadors for the race. It gave me a chance to use Dell Latitude Rugged for all the tasks that have been showing up on the horizon.

TC is responsible for lots of tasks before, during and after each race. Here are some of them:

  • Organize and keep updating the crew list in a giant spreadsheet, which includes everything from what legs they are doing and birthdays, to personality characteristics and which bunk beds they have already slept in.
  • Prep before each leg includes working with the Skipper to allocate crew to the two watches. I then work thru the crew line-up to allocate bunks and create a job rotation. This is tough because we “hot-bunk” (share a bunk), and therefore need to pair people with each other as “bunk buddies”. The same pair will also be cooking buddies. 20 people living in a small area creates all kinds of logistical issues. A spreadsheet is still the best tool to solve these with. By the end of the race, I may come up with a better tool or a macro😉. Then all the Watchlists, rotas, job descriptions, menu, standing orders, etc. need to be printed, laminated, and posted in the saloon.

clipper ship seattle

When we are finally off and at sea, it’s time to focus on sailing and the race, picking the right tactics and evaluating our performance versus the other eleven boats. The “scheds” (position reports) come in every six hours, or four times a day. We track the speed and distance info of other boats in the spreadsheet on the Dell Latitude Rugged laptop in order to compare our track and sail plan.

During the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1, we managed to build a lot of good knowledge and experiences useful in adjusting to the boat life quicker. We decided to capture these in the book of ‘Best Practices’, using Dell Latitude Rugged. The beauty of using Dell Rugged is that we can keep editing the file anywhere on the boat, even on deck with waves splashing over the deck from time to time. ‘Best Practices’ includes simple things, such as how to clean the toilet or to how to climb and sleep in the top bunk on high side at 40-degree angle.

Immediately after we arrive in new port, we are off to deep cleaning the boat and doing some routine maintenance or repair jobs. This means the Job List is the most used spreadsheet file with all the tasks allocated to various departments and prioritized. The list gets updated frequently on Dell Rugged.

Clipper ship Visit Seattle at night

Upon arrival, we are required to perform safety and rig checks and turn in the log book. Before then, we scan every page of the logbook into Dell Rugged and share the documents with an onshore teammate who uses the data from the just-completed race to compute and update our boat polars. A polar is a description of how fast a boat should sail at a given wind speed and angle.

The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1 was a grueling 33 days at sea, luckily with enough time to do some of the work highlighted above. I am looking forward to the South Atlantic Leg 2 and more challenges, both sailing and organizational.


Marek Omilian headshot About Marek Omilian, crew member, Visit Seattle

Marek Omilian, 53 from Seattle, USA, is undertaking the full 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation on board Visit Seattle. The father of two grew up sailing centre-board boats in the Sea Scouts in his native Poland, and after immigrating to the USA in his twenties, he began sailing keelboats and has been racing in the Puget Sound since 2015.

Being a Dell Ambassador was a natural fit for Omilian, who has a computing and analyst background and runs his own valuation and management consultant firm. Other than the pride of arriving in his home port of Seattle, Omilian is hoping his Clipper Race experience will challenge him both physically and mentally, and create life-long friendships with his teammates. And, of course, result in winning the coveted Clipper Race Trophy.

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