From sailing tiny Pico Laser boats along South Sound, to traveling around the world in a 75-foot racing yacht, it has been a long journey for Caymanian accountant James Macfee.
Mr. Macfee, 30, will join hundreds of other amateur sailors in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, starting in Liverpool in September.
Many of the participants have little or no open-ocean sailing experience and will take part in the race after just four weeks of training.
Mr. Macfee, who has crewed boats on Atlantic crossings in the past, said the race teams amateur sailors with experienced skippers in a format that allows laypeople the opportunity to sail around the world.
He said his experience was mostly “pretty casual sailing and a little bit of racing, most of it done here in Cayman.”
But the Clipper race gives him a rare chance to complete a journey he has dreamed of since he was 13.
“Most round-the-world races are for professionals, elite sailors with multiple Olympic medals,” he said. “This is for the everyday person.”
The race takes 11 months and will stop in multiple ports, including London, Cape Town, Uruguay, Australia, China and both coasts of the U.S.
He expects one of the highlights to be traversing the Panama Canal. The race is split into 13 legs, with teams accumulating points based on where they finish in each section of the journey.
During training in Gosport, England, the sailors will be split into groups of 20 and assigned a professional skipper to work with them.
They will compete on 75-foot racing boats, sailing in two watches, and sleeping on bunks below deck. The boats are designed for speed, not comfort, and the sailors will cram into lightweight aluminum-framed bunks to snatch a few hours of sleep between shifts.
Mr. Macfee said he is nervous but excited about the journey. He expects one of the key elements of training to be about “trying to make sure we are sane and can be stuck together on the ocean for several months.”
He will be blogging his journey on his website www.macandtack.com, and is raising money for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation as part of the process.