‘Team spirit’ will keep us buoyant on global challenge

Yachts taking part in last year's Clipper Round the World Race'''             '  Picture: onEdition
Yachts taking part in last year's Clipper Round the World Race''' ' Picture: onEdition
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It is an endurance test like no other which has seen sailors lose their lives in the battle against the ocean’s force.

But as the final preparations are made for the start of the Clipper Round the World Race it’s not just hardened yachtsmen and women getting ready.

Clipper Round the World Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnson ''Picture: onEdition

Clipper Round the World Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnson ''Picture: onEdition

Unique to Clipper, amateur sailors are fulfilling long-held dreams of joining established crews in the race.

They have been going through months of rigorous training and shelled out up to £7,000 per leg to take part.

Eleven months, six continents and 40,000 miles of nautical adventures is what lays in store for the six participants from the Portsmouth area when the international race begins on August 20.

Founded by the first person to sail non-stop around the world, Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, this year marks 11 years since the race began with more than 40,00 people taking part since then.

Sir Robin says: ‘The Clipper Race has got bigger and better with each edition and it is fantastic to see so many people from the Portsmouth area participating and preparing for what will be the race of their 

‘This race really is unique in offering the opportunity for anybody aged over 18 to sail around the world, even if they have no prior experience and hopefully many more local sailors will be inspired to take part in the future.’

More than 700 crew divided into 12 teams will take to the seas in the 70 ft racing yachts and complete many roles while on board – from helmsman, to bowman, to cook.

Training for the races was completed at Gosport Marina in the lead up to the event and last week the boats left the harbour for Liverpool where the race will start.

Famous names will join this year’s crew in the form of TV presenter Dominic Littlewood, gold medal-winning Olympic skier, Hannah Macleod and former Olympic skier, Graham Bell.

The race itself is divided into eight legs with some crew members just completing one or a few legs each with others in for the long haul.

The sailors will stop off at host ports including Cape Town,South Africa, Whitsundays, Australia, Qingdao, China and New York, USA.

To follow the action read The News and go to clipperroundtheworld.com.

Name: Meihong Tian

Age: 29

Home: Portsmouth

Occupation: Customer Service and Accountant Assistant

Legs: 7, Qingdao

Days at sea: 38

I am proud to be one of the Qingdao ambassadors and also representing my hometown. I was born in that beautiful city, and have grown up to witness its development.

With its development, sailing has become one of the popular leisure activities especially after Qingdao became one of the Asian stopovers in the Clipper Race which has attracted tourists worldwide.

Offshore sailing is not easy; we have to cope with different weather conditions. However, when I saw the most beautiful scenery, such as sunsets, dolphins jumping around our yacht and breathtaking starry skies, all the hardship becomes worth it.

I thought those scenes would only happen in the movies like in Life of Pi but it is an amazing experience.

I believe it is going to be the most memorable experience through my entire life. Life is a

journey and I will make the most of it.

Name: Tim Hayward

Age: 59

Home: Fareham

Occupation: Consultant

Legs: 8

Days at sea: 22

I signed up for Clipper because I love sailing and was looking for a challenge that would take me somewhere I hadn’t been before, both physically and mentally, and ocean sailing seemed to be that challenge.

I used to be in the Royal Navy in nuclear submarines and have sailed under some of the oceans but not on top of them in a sailing boat.

Now we’re getting closer to the race start I’m feeling excited, but I’m sure I’ll be a little bit nervous as we get closer to my leg start.

In our level four training three weeks ago we sailed through a Force 8 gale heading from Portsmouth to France via Portland, so I know the boat can handle rough weather. It was both scary and exhilarating, but living at 45 degrees for a few weeks will be a challenge.

I’m most looking forward to testing myself in a difficult physical and mental environment and sharing the challenge with a great bunch of like-minded crew members, and of course being on the best boat, Liverpool 2018!

Name: Fiona Treveil

Age: 56

Home: Southsea

Occupation: Computer Software Analyst

Legs:5 - 8

Days at sea: 146

In January I will be joining the Clipper Race in northern Australia to help sail the Dare To Lead yacht back to England with the help of skipper Dale Smyth.

I originally signed up to join the last three months of the Clipper Race, but recently realised that, as this will be the only opportunity that I will get in my life to do something like this, I need to do more so I will now be sailing halfway around the world and will be away for six months.

I am a bit nervous about what the conditions will really be like in both hot and cold parts of the worlds and how I will handle living in a small space for a long period and cope with the rough seas that I am expecting at some times.

I have met many amazing people during the training sails that I have done, and I am looking forward to being part of a great crew who will all be working together to keep the boat sailing as well as possible.

Name: Faith Burns

Age: 35

Home: Hayling Island

Occupation: Merchandiser

Legs: 5 - 7

Days at sea: 124

Having learnt to sail on the Hamble as a child the reality of living out one of my life-long dreams is fast approaching.

It’s been nearly two years since I completed my race crew interview and since then I have completed intensive training both on and off the water to gear up for what will be the race of my life.

For most (including me) the thought of spending six months mainly at sea is daunting to say the least. Even if you don’t consider spending 95 per cent of your time soaked from endless crashing waves, it is getting to grips with life below decks whilst living at a 45 degree angle that is perhaps the ultimate of core work outs.

Needless to say it is pretty entertaining the first time you try and make a cup of tea and indeed go to the loo at this angle.

I set off to meet my team in Airlie Beach (Australia) in January. From there we will race our boat up to China, complete the mighty Pacific crossing to Seattle and then down the west coast of the USA through the Panama Canal and up the east coast to New York.

I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved to date in training as individuals and as a team.

On a personal level my challenge will also to be to raise funds for three amazing charities close to my heart, UNICEF, The RNLI and The MS Society. My fundraising page details are uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FaithEmmaBurns.

Name: Marie Sessions

Age: 46

Home: Fareham

Occupation: Self employed make-up artist

Legs: 1

Days at sea: 33

I am really excited about the race start in Liverpool. I signed up in November 2015 so it has been a huge build-up and I can’t believe it is here already.

I am really looking forward to crossing the Atlantic on Leg 1 as I’ve absolutely loved doing the sailing training. It was tough and I’ve met some amazing people along the way.

My biggest challenge for me, apart from being on the boat itself, will be leaving my family for almost six weeks altogether.

I’ve never been away from my children, Libby and Tom, for more than two weeks.

l Duda Wojciech, 50, Waterlooville will also be taking part in the race. The radiographer will spend 53 days on board.

l Tech Development Manager, Will Stokeley is currently on board with his team. The 46 year-old from Southsea will spend 33 days at sea.