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Mary King swaps saddles for sails

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Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Mary King

“There was a joke on the boat about me wearing my pearls, but you have to keep up standards!” said British Champion and Olympian Mary King. Mary, 58, who has represented Great Britain at six Olympic Games is racing across the Southern Ocean in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Having sailed around the clock for more than three weeks, covering 4,750 miles from Cape Town to Fremantle in Western Australia, her team faced 60mph wind speeds, freezing cold temperatures and waves as tall as apartment blocks. Mary says: “The roar of the wind and enormous waves make you feel so small and insignificant – it was incredible.”

Mary was one of 20 crew members racing on board the Seattle team yacht – one of eleven, identical 70ft yachts that are being raced. Mary adds: “The toughest part was when we were in the depths of the Southern Ocean.  It so cold there was snow in the air and it’s impossible to get warm. The record was nine layers someone had on and it is quite difficult to get your wet weather gear on at an angle with the boat moving!”

Like every other Clipper Race Crew member, this was a totally new challenge for Mary, who said: “I have always had a real love for the sea and my father is a retired Royal Navy Officer. Horses were the number one aim and dream in my life, but I always thought if horses didn’t work out I would definitely go and work with boats somehow. Being a competitive person, I would love to sail around the world, but it’s not possible when you are still competing. When somebody then sent me a link to the Clipper Race website I realised the Southern Ocean is out of eventing season! So it is a good time to get it ticked off my list.”

The Clipper Race is the only event of its type that gives everyday people, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to race across the world’s oceans. Each of the eleven teams is headed up by a professional Skipper and First Mate, but the crews are formed by ordinary people from 43 different countries and every walk of life. In total, almost 700 crew will take part in the 41,165 nautical mile circumnavigation, which takes eleven months to complete. Crew can choose to race around the world or take part in one of eight individual stages within the global route.

Starting in London on 1 September 2019, the race has since called into Portimao ub Portugal, Punta del Este in Uruguay and Cape Town. From Fremantle, the race will restart on 22 December 2019 heading for Whitsundays in Australia, Sanya in China, Subic Bay in the Philippines, Zhuhai and Qingdao in China, Seattle and New York, Hamilton in Bermuda and Derry in Northern Ireland, before returning to the Royal Albert Dock, London in Summer 2020.

For more information, visit clipperroundtheworld.com

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