SAILING across the equator made Ian Geraghty’s 53rd birthday one he will never forget.
The Southsea sailor is half-way around the world taking part in the Clipper yacht race.
The dad-of-three celebrated his birthday at the same time his crew crossed the prime meridian on their way to Rio de Janeiro.
His yacht, the Geraldton Western Australia, eventually finished in seventh place on the first leg of the race.
Ian told The News: ‘It was the highlight of the journey so far, celebrating my birthday as we crossed the equator.
‘It was a double celebration. It was the highlight for me along with the fact we have sailed such a long way together.
‘It’s fantastic but it’s been very tactical so far.
‘We have come 6,500 miles now and it’s no picnic.
‘A lot of people don’t realise how difficult it is.
‘We’ve had people on the edge of exhaustion where you’re on watch and working on the boat.
‘There have been some tough moments where we spent 16 hours going only five miles.
‘You can have calm weather one minute and rough seas the next.’
Ian’s yacht was diverted to northern Spain last month when one of the crew members was injured in rough weather.
A wave swept the sailor off his feet and he fell with his legs between the bars of the boat’s pulpit.
As the yacht was moving through the water at a fast 40 knots, the waves buffeted his leg and left him with injuries to his knee.
Ian, of Villiers Road, Southsea, added: ‘We had to divert the boat and he went off to be checked out.
‘It was a bit of a shock, we were trying to get a sail down.
‘There was a time when we thought he would have to drop out but he rejoined us later on and we were pleased.’
The crew of the Geraldton Western Australia are now in Rio de Janeiro preparing for the next leg of the 40,000-mile voyage.
This race will see them compete with nine other racing yachts to reach Cape Town, South Africa, in the fastest time.
Ian, who is using his time on the boat to raise money for Sail 4 Cancer, said: ‘We’re carrying out some work on the boat at the moment and we set off from Rio on Saturday.
‘We’re hoping to finish in the top half of the fleet in this race.
‘We’ve got a long way to go yet.’
He added: ‘It will be great to return home and see all my friends and family again.
‘I’m so grateful for their support.’
It will take 11 months to complete the Clipper race around the globe.
It is divided into eight legs and there are 15 individual races within each leg.