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#ClipperRace - Former Derry~Londonderry~Doire skipper Mark Light has been appointed as the new race director of the Clipper Round the World Race.

Light, who replaces Justin Taylor in the role after almost a decade, was previously deputy race director since 2012 after skippering the Irish entry to a strong finish in the 2011-12 edition of the race.

“I am honoured to be named race director of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race,” said Light. “As a former skipper, I know both the challenges and the rewards it offers, and having worked as deputy race director for the previous two race editions I feel prepared and ready to lead the race into the 2017-18 edition and beyond.”

Light’s most immediate responsibilities will include appointing a new deputy race director, and trialling and selecting the 12 professional skippers for the the eleventh edition of the Clipper Race that starts next summer and is expected to be the biggest one to date.

Published in Clipper Race
Yachtsman Mark Light, his grandaprents are from Mayo, has been named as the skipper of Derry-Londonderry for sailing's Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, one of the ten yachtsmen who will lead teams in the event, and is thrilled to have been chosen to take charge of the Northern Ireland entry.

Mark, 39, is among the line-up of international sailors who have been appointed to the prestigious and challenging position following a rigorous selection process and says, "I am absolutely delighted to have got the job. It didn't sink in initially when I got the phone call but then the emails started coming through and it's now all very real. It's amazing – a great feeling!"

Derry-Londonderry's participation will form the centrepiece of the campaign leading up to the city's celebrations as UK City of Culture 2013.

Mark says, "When I got the job I had in mind that I would like to skipper the Irish entry so it's great to have been appointed to lead the Derry-Londonderry team. I think Northern Ireland's a fantastic place and it's great that our stopover is one of the last of the race so we have it as a great motivator all the way around."

Derry-Londonderry is one of ten internationally-sponsored entries in Clipper 11-12. They include Singapore, Chinese entry, Qingdao, and De Lage Landen which will race under the Dutch flag. The Clipper Race is the only global ocean race open to everyone, regardless of background and sailing ability and is the longest in the world. Almost 500 people from 40 nationalities and more than 250 different professions will step outside their comfort zone to race a stripped down, 68-foot yacht 40,000 miles around the world.

"I believe the whole concept of the Clipper Race is brilliant," says Mark. "Making ocean sailing accessible to anybody and providing the challenge and platform on which to literally change people's lives is very special."

He continues, "Being able to lead a crew around the world in a yacht race, for me, takes everything to the next level. It will be so satisfying to watch a group of people put together randomly at first, progress with lots of hard work and training and evolve into a highly competitive race team and group of very accomplished offshore sailors. I will be very proud to carry out that job."

Originally from Gloucestershire, Mark now lives on the Isle of Wight and hopes to celebrate his 40th birthday racing a yacht to victory somewhere in the Southern Ocean. Introduced to sailing in his late 20s he learned to sail dinghies on a lake. Once bitten by the sailing bug he took the plunge, left his job as a mechanical and production engineer and studied full time for the sailing qualifications that would allow him to turn his passion into a career. Now an experienced senior instructor with many ocean crossings to his name, he is most looking forward to racing across the Pacific Ocean – and arriving in his team's home port, Derry-Londonderry, at the end of the final transatlantic stage.

"I am looking forward to the whole race as every leg will no doubt bring very different challenges but there are definitely sections I am looking forward to specifically. The leg I am most looking forward to is crossing the greatest ocean on the planet – the mighty Pacific – but the stopover I am looking forward to most is of course, Derry-Londonderry. Sailing down the River Foyle into the heart of the City of Culture to a fabulous reception is going to be unbeatable!"

The Clipper Race celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, the first edition having been 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 3,000 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.

Sir Robin comments, "Leading a team in a race around the world is one of the hardest and most challenging jobs that any skipper could ever undertake and we're confident Mark is up to this challenge. He has been through a lengthy and rigorous selection process and we have chosen a group of ten exceptional individuals as our race skippers. They all have the ability to draw the line between competitiveness and safety while, at the same time, motivating the crew to retain their focus during races lasting several weeks at a time, whether it be through roaring gales and towering seas or the frustration of tricky calm spells."

Followers of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race can look forward to some exciting and exhilarating racing when the event gets underway this August. During the 40,000-mile race the fleet will stop at 15 ports around the world before arriving back in the UK in July 2012. For the first time the route includes an extra leg that will take the fleet from the west coast of Australia rounding Cape Leeuwin en route to New Zealand and then on to Australia's east coast.

The search is already underway for suitably qualified men and women to follow in the footsteps of these ten skippers in the next edition of the race which will start in 2013 and will be raced on the brand new fleet of 70-foot yachts that have been specially commissioned. Skippers wishing to register their interest in applying for one of the most prestigious positions in sailing should email [email protected]

Published in Clipper Race

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