Interview: Star Clippers Captain Sergey Utitsyn
Watch the light glint off the water and the wind flick the sails as you discover the world on one of Star Clippers’ tall ships. Captain Sergey Utitsyn talks about life at sea.
How does a typical day begin?
I love the early mornings because it is very quiet on the bridge. You can enjoy the sounds of the wind and sails, the rigging and the waves. It’s like a kind of therapy and it makes me feel very close to nature.
How did you come to be captain of a tall ship?
I had my first experience of sailing in 1978 when I was a training cadet on a Russian tall ship. I was training to be in the merchant fleet but I caught the bug. The tall ship was built in 1926 and was called Padua, although she’s now named Kruzenshtern. She was one of the last windjammers – a tall ship from the legendary Flying P Line. She’s still in service and is 88 years old. I was on the ship for nearly 14 years, starting as a cadet and progressing to chief officer and relief captain. We did everything by hand, which is very important for any seaman. It’s a good test. It gets you ready for a life at sea and it’s an important lesson in teamwork.
Do you have a favourite among the Star Clippers fleet?
I’ve captained all three ships. People ask which one I prefer but they’re all different. Star Flyer, though, is like my first love.
"I was on the ship for nearly 14 years, starting as a cadet and progressing to chief officer and relief captain. We did everything by hand, which is very important for any seaman..."
Captain Sergey Utitsyn
Do you mix with the guests?
Yes, I very much like having different nationalities onboard and mixing with all the passengers. I have so many friends after nearly 15 years with the company, it really is one of the best parts of my job. On every sailing, we find new friends.
What is your favourite sailing area and why?
The Caribbean islands because there are more possibilities for good sailing and sailing manoeuvres, as there are always good trade winds blowing.
What memory stands out during your time with Star Clippers?
The first transatlantic crossing I did as captain on Star Clipper, from Europe to the West Indies, was wonderful. We’re a lot more flexible with the route and the sailing manoeuvres on a crossing. It’s a lot of responsibility and you really do have to find the wind, a challenge just like the old times! You have to have a strategy and make it work.
When do you get to rest?
The trouble with a job like this is that you have four months on board, then two or three at home, but everybody thinks that the time onboard is a vacation! And you know what we always say – the captain is on duty 25 hours a day!