Burnley man's round the world yachting experience is proving just swell

The crew in action
The crew in action

A Burnley man swapped his office for the high seas to take part in a round the world yacht race.


Marketing executive Olly Fort (28) from Burnley joined personal trainer Mary Vaughan-Jones (24) from Lancaster in sailing to Fremantle, Australia, completing the third of eight-stages that makes up the 40,000 mile-long Clipper Round the World Yacht Race before heading back to sea for Christmas and New Year.

20190119 Copyright James Robinson Oliver Fort: Clipper Round the World 2019/20 crew member

20190119 Copyright James Robinson Oliver Fort: Clipper Round the World 2019/20 crew member

"The highlight for me was steering the boat during our top recorded wind speed – 70pmh. It was just amazing,” said Olly after racing 15,000 miles from London.

Mary and Olly, who did not know each other before embarking on the challenge, departed London on September 1st.

The duo are just two of almost 700 ordinary people from all over the world taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, a global yacht race that allows anyone over the age of 18 the opportunity to experience Mother Nature in her raw and powerful glory.

What makes their achievements all the more remarkable is that prior to signing up, neither had ever sailed a yacht - and when the duo arrive back in London next summer they will be joining an elite group; more people have climbed Mount Everest than raced around the world.

Olly (right) uses the 'coffee grinder' to adjust the sails on board with teammates

Olly (right) uses the 'coffee grinder' to adjust the sails on board with teammates

Olly, racing on the team yacht called Visit Sanya, China, added: This leg has been my favourite one so far – the seas were huge. The team spirit was really good, and everyone was really keen to get involved.”

Mary and Olly have a long way to go between Western Australia and returning to the UK next summer. Next up, they will be spending Christmas and New Year at sea racing in the next stage of the race to Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays, on the east coast.

On the challenge ahead, Mary, who is racing on the Punta del Este (Uruguayan-sponsored) team yacht, said: “We are really motivated to get going. This is my first Christmas at sea, we are stocked up for Christmas on board with panettone and Christmas hats - we’re ready to go.”

The latest race, Race 4, is one of 15 that forms the global Clipper Race route. It saw the duo, who are on competing yachts, race 10 other identical yachts 24 hours per day for over three weeks. They faced freezing cold temperatures, waves taller than buildings and wind speeds of over 60mph.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its type that gives everyday people, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to race the world’s oceans. Some 40 per cent have never sailed before signing up to take part.

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 more of the eight individual stages with the global route.

Each team, led by a professional skipper and first mate, is crewed by everyday people, from all walks of life and representing 43 different nationalities.

So far, the race has called into Portimao, Portugal, Punta del Este, Uruguay and Cape Town, South Africa and Fremantle, Australia. After reaching the Whitsundays, Australia, the race will head to Sanya, China; Subic Bay, Philippines; Zhuhai and Qingdao, China; Seattle and New York, USA; Hamilton, Bermuda; Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, before finishing back in London in Summer 2020.