‘I decided I wanted to do something more with my life’

Darren Hicks 30 of Southsea who will be taking part in the clipper round the world yacht race
Darren Hicks 30 of Southsea who will be taking part in the clipper round the world yacht race
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome with Jean and Allan Thompson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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DARREN Hicks is ready to step out of his comfort zone as he sets sail on a life-changing voyage.

The 30-year-old will take part in the Clipper 2011-12 round the world yacht race, which sets off from Southampton tomorrow.

The technical account manager, who is taking four months out from work to take part, is doing legs seven and eight of the global trek.

The Clipper yacht race is divided into a series of eight legs and crews from across the world can decide how many of these to compete in.

There are 15 individual races within each leg, with points awarded after each race.

The winning team will win the Clipper Trophy later next year.

Darren has chosen to set sail with team Visit Finland, who will start their journey from San Francisco next April.

He will join the team of 18 as they travel across the Caribbean, Canada, Amsterdam and Northern Ireland before arriving back in Southampton four months later.

Their travels will see them clock up a total of 8,800 miles.

Darren, from Netley Road, Southsea, said: ‘I decided I wanted to do something more with my life. I was getting itchy feet.

‘When I was growing up, my dad always had amazing adventures to tell and I thought to myself, I want to be more like him.’

Darren decided to take the plunge after he saw billboards in London advertising the event last year.

He said: ‘When I saw it advertised I thought, why not? It’s time for me to make my mark on this planet.’

Before Darren sets sail next year, he will raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, who helped his niece, Amelia, aged six, recover from leukaemia.

He is using the trip to support the children’s charity and so far he has raised more than £700.

Darren, who has lived in Southsea for 11 years, has also paid £14,500 to take part in the Clipper race.

He said: ‘Great Ormond did so much for my family, so I felt that I should really help them in the work they do.

‘I’ve had to fund everything including my own equipment and food rations for the journey, but it’s all been worth it.’

Darren began his training for the trip last year, taking a yachting and crew entry-level course.

He practised being a skipper and sailed across the Atlantic.

He said: ‘What I’m most looking forward to is being at the helm of the boat and steering. I want to direct the sails and take the lead.

‘I’ve always been passionate about the sea. I grew up in Cyprus learning how to wind surf and sail, so for me this is a fantastic opportunity.’

He added: ‘I think flying halfway round the world and sailing back is pretty immense. I’m looking forward to making new friends.

‘The hardest part of the trip will be getting used to life on board. Initially it will be a steep learning curve, but that is part of the challenge.’