Land-locked Yorkshireman Roy Taylor handed dream of skippering in Clipper Race

Barnsley's Roy Taylor will skipper one of the 12 boats in this year's Clipper Race.
Barnsley's Roy Taylor will skipper one of the 12 boats in this year's Clipper Race.
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IT is famed the world over for being one of the longest and most grueling races ever conceived.

And one Yorkshireman has been selected to captain his own crew and set sail on a 40,000 nautical-mile journey around the globe in this year's Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The amateur contest, which starts in August, has pitted 12 teams of sailors against one another in pursuit of glory since 1996, on 70-foot ocean yachts for a race lasting almost 12 months.

Former Royal Air Force (RAF) weapons technician Roy Taylor, from land-locked Barnsley, was chosen as one of the 12 lucky skippers who will take part in competition.

“I think I'm the first skipper from South Yorkshire in this race,” the 47-year-old said.

“There's not that many sailors from South Yorkshire so it's a privilege and it's nice to be the first one.

The Clipper Race fleet.

The Clipper Race fleet.

“I'm quite apprehensive as well as excited.”

The father-of-one, who lives in Kexborough, was first inspired to sign up for the the Clipper Race after taking part in the Exercise Transglobe, a round the world yacht race crewed by personnel from the RAF, Army and Navy, in 1998 and 2004.

Since his time at the RAF, Mr Taylor has spent the past decade as a sailing instructor in the UK and Germany.

He has worked teaching adults, and young people from the Marine Society and Sea Cadets, about sailing.

The Clipper Fleet.

The Clipper Fleet.

Mr Taylor said: “When I left the RAF I learned to sail. I did quite a lot of expeditions and I've built up a lot of experience.

“This is something that has always been in the back of my mind.”

With choppy seas, unpredictable weather and thousands of nautical miles to cover during the contest, the former weapons technician acknowledged the danger ahead.

He knows all too well the need to work under pressure, after serving for 10 years working on RAF fast jet squadrons and several overseas deployments, including time serving in an operational theatre in Kuwait which earned him a General Service Medal (Air Operations Iraq).

“It's an extreme sport there's obviously dangers and challenges,” he said.

“But it's about how you prepare, mentally and physically, as to how you deal with them.”

The Clipper Race was founded by William Ward and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world.

It gives amateur sailors the chance to become open racers in a competitive environment and organisers say around 40 per cent of crew are novices who have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

Sir Robin said: “The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing.

“Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.

“I wish Roy and his team the best in their Clipper 2017-18 Race campaign.”

Mr Taylor is the only skipper from Yorkshire in this year’s contest.

The eleventh edition of the biennial race will visit six continents and include six ocean crossings.

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