A crew of unsuspecting celebrities and seasoned sailors are currently half-way through a voyage from Belfast to London in aid of BT Sport Relief. We catch up with them en route. Words: Madeleine Barber

At the time of writing, Volvo Ocean Race Champion and MUSTO ambassador Ian Walker and his celebrity crew have had to pull in to a Plymouth port due to an unexpected storm. The team are three days in to a challenging charity sail from Belfast to London via Land’s End in aid of BT Sport Relief.

Joined by TV presenters Alex Jones, Angelica Bell, Ore Oduba and Suzi Perry, plus comedians Doon Mackichan and Hal Cruttenden, Ian is skippering the five-day sail, which is proving quite the trial with high seas and tricky tempests to overcome. The voyage title ‘Hell on High Seas’ says it all. But having raised a total of £354,810 so far, it’s worth the challenge.

While onshore and waiting for the storm to pass, there’s a rare opportunity to chat to Ian mid-trip. He’s sheltering from the gale-force winds outside of a pontoon and the 15-person crew are preparing food and layering on their MUSTO clothing: ‘It’s going to be a cold night,’ Ian says. ‘We’re making good time and are hoping to get out again at around 10pm this evening.’

Looking back over the past couple of days at sea, Ian considers the opportunity to meet new people a highlight of the trip, and watching them ‘adapt to this alien world’. But the real highlight, of course, is that they’re raising such a large amount money for such a great cause. ‘It’s bringing smiles to everyone’s faces,’ he says.

But how are the celebrities faring with this time at sea? ‘The girls are holding up stronger than the men’ Ian jokes. ‘There’s a little seasickness, but that’s to be expected.’ Getting used to life at sea is a tricky business. Talking of difficulties, Ian comments that ‘the biggest challenge was getting in to the marina last night’. That aside, the voyage has been plain sailing with light winds and even a touch of dolphin spotting in the shallow waves. It seems there is only one way to describe the weather on this trip: changeable.

With approximately 340 miles to go (including Ian’s seemingly sneaky detours), he reassures us that even with busy crew and media commitments, ‘We’re all still focussed.’ And so they will need to be.

By sponsoring the team, you can help support people in some of the world’s poorest countries – half of the money raised will be sent abroad and the other half put to use in the UK. Here at coast we’re wishing the crew the best of luck for sunny skies and calm seas to help them complete their charity voyage and continue to grow their donation total.

Track the crew’s progress here or tune in to The One Show for live updates from the show’s presenter Alex Jones every day from 7pm. And don’t forget to sponsor the team! You can donate here.

Track the crew’s progress here or tune in to The One Show for live updates from the show’s presenter Alex Jones every day from 7pm. And don’t forget to sponsor the team! You can donate here.