It’s Christmas!

It was the night before Christmas, and not a creature was stirring, well, save from a set of 3 snoring retrievers, one of whom is currently sleep wagging; must be a good dream!

I am safely tucked away in France at my Mum’s house, looking forward to celebrating Christmas and letting up on my strict diet for a day!!

Bertie taking in his amazing view!

It’s been a crazy few months, and as I look towards 2018, and the challenges that it will bring, I’m am so thankful for what this year has shown me, has taught me, and above all has gifted me.

2017 officially saw the launch of Hannah Stodel Racing and my campaign towards the Vendee Globe, but it was so much more than that. For me it was the start of a new challenge, a chance to live out a lifelong dream, and above all a step on the path towards putting a slightly broken me back together.

Of course as we approach Christmas, and the New Year, I’ve taken a moment to look back on how far I’ve come, and there are so many people that need thanking for helping me along the way.

First off, my parents … I know its taken a while to get there, but I appreciate the support and the backing. Thank you for allowing me to chase this somewhat crazy dream. It has not been easy seeing me go from Paralympic sailing, and that somewhat unstable lifestyle, to the even more unstable and dangerous world of ocean racing, but you know that this really is something I love doing, and being out there has made me realise that what I have been missing these past few years is myself; you’ve given that back to me, and for that I will always be grateful.

Class 40 training with Alex Alex, the voice of reason, the supplier of coffee and the stable platform in this crazy race to make history by putting a disabled sailor on the start line! You really have been incredible; answering the phone when I’ve needed you, when my family have needed you because my AIS no longer showed a signal, and when everyone needed advice or just someone to chat to. You’ve helped with my boats, sailed with me, driven with me, and drunk a few gins with me, and its been so nice having someone who I know is truly on my team!

Thank you for letting me raid your office and most importantly letting me cuddle your dachshunds, Monty and Dory…. bringing them to visit me when I was an emotional wreck during my Yacht Master prep really made my week, and made me trust myself again ….. it’s true, dogs really are the best therapy!

You mazy think you’re in the background, but you’re not!! Thank you for always being by my side!

Adriana, thank you for always being there and giving me direction and reassurance when I need it, you make me slow down, and you always know what to do! I hope one day you will realise how truly amazing you are and come over to the dark side 😉

Jennie, thank you for the endless chats, for being the UN in my world, and for helping me draft so many things; you really have a gift with words and I thank you for always giving up your time to help me.

Bringing AKQA and the fabulous staff that work there into my life has been so incredible; the deck I have is nothing short of amazing, and I’m so excited about what the future holds. Mostly though, I just want to thank you for being my friend and believing in me, even when I don’t myself, and of course the dog walks!

To the team behind the scenes; Kat, Lizzy Bear, Adam, Mel, Sammi, Sandra, Hamish, Alex, Lucinda, James and Mary, you guys are all total legends and have put many a smile on my face this year, and I look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for us!

Family Dugdale, you deserve a special thank you here. All the advice and support you have given me this year has helped me through some of the toughest times, and knowing that Daddy D will answer the phone at any hour is a very nice safety net to have.

Carol, thank you for dieting with me, putting up with my self doubts and always making yourself free to FaceTime to keep me awake on long drives, as well as helping me we with some of the less glamorous jobs that come with boat ownership.

You really are my second family!!

To my mentors and general advice givers; Sir Robin, Jeremy and now Philippe, thank you for your time and expertise. It’s been amazing having access to your wealth of knowledge, and I’m so grateful for your time and effort.

Thank you to each and everyone of my supporters!

Finally, thank you to everyone that is supporting HSR and my dream to race in and complete the Vendee Globe. That’s all of you… the social media comments, the random messages, everyone who brought a shirt and sent me a pic, the support catching lines in random docks, or offers of help washing and bailing boats. It might be a small thing, but to me it’s everything.

Without all of you, HSR wouldn’t be a reality, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

2018 here we come.

Happy Christmas, Happy Sailing, and have a fab New Year everyone!

H x

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