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Irishman named as 'Cork' skipper for Clipper 09-10

19th May 2009

Irishman Richie Fearon is thrilled about his appointment as Cork skipper in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race. “It’s a dream come true” says Fearon, 28. “It’s the boat I really wanted and I can’t wait to meet my crew, get going and get out there to showcase the Cork region and Ireland around the world.”
Cork is one of the ten internationally-sponsored entries in the Clipper Race, an event where people from all walks of life step out of their comfort zones and onto a stripped down 68-foot racing yacht for the 35,000-mile race around the globe. Cork is sponsored by a joint partnership between Fáilte Ireland, Cork County Council and Cork City Council with the aim of driving tourism and business investment. The region will host a stopover in June 2010.

“It goes without saying that arriving in Cork at the end of that last Atlantic crossing will be the highlight of the race!” says Richie, who has been sailing since he was a child and has combined a love of the ocean with a career in business. His role as a project manager with a property development company and as business coordinator with the Londonderry Junior Chamber will see him in good stead for the task that lies ahead: managing a team of people whose backgrounds include carpenters, chief executives, nurses, lawyers and even clergy.

“I think one of the biggest challenges will be bringing up guys who are relative novices. It will be great to see the joy that I once got when I learned to sail - I sometimes wish I could go back and learn how to sail again, just for the pure pleasure of it! But it’s great to have the opportunity now to pass on my knowledge to my crew. It’s certainly a challenge but there’s a big reward at the end.

“A successful race would certainly be crossing the finishing line in first place at the end, but a successful race for me would also be to get Cork around the world safely with everyone enjoying it and hopefully we can get some podium finishes on the way around.

Derry-born Richie is itching to get started on building a winning campaign for Cork and will discover who is in his team when the crew allocation for all ten yachts is announced on 30 May. “I really can’t wait to get started but first we have a long summer ahead of us getting the boat ready and formulating a winning team,” he says.

The first edition of the Clipper Race was run in 1996. It was established by legendary yachtsman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who, in 1969, became the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world. He wanted to make ocean racing available to everyone, regardless of nationality or background, and since that first race almost 2,000 ordinary people have taken the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and do something truly extraordinary by taking on nature in the raw and racing around the world under sail. More than 5,000 more have been introduced to sailing through the Clipper Training programme.

Richie says, “I applied to be a skipper on the Clipper Race because it’s a burning desire I’ve always had – not only to sail around the world but to race around the world. I think the organisation at Clipper for the race, the training, the management is spot on and they’ve got the right formula. That’s what attracted me in the first place.”

Followers of the race can look forward to some exciting and exhilarating racing when Clipper 09-10 gets underway on 13 September. The race will start from the Humber River, the first time an around the world yacht race has set off from the east coast of the UK, taking the sport to a new audience. During the 35,000-mile race the fleet will stop at 14 ports around the world, including Cork, before arriving back in the Humber in July 2010.
 
The search will soon be getting underway for suitably qualified men and women to follow in Richie’s footsteps in the next edition of the race which will start in 2011. Skippers wishing to register their interest in applying for one of the most prestigious positions in sailing should email [email protected]

Afloat.ie Team

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