Caymanian sailor James Macfee said it was a “beautiful high” to sail into Liverpool, U.K., at the helm of his team’s 70-foot yacht to complete his round-the-world odyssey.
The 31-year-old accountant was given the honor of taking the wheel for the final leg of the Clipper Round the World Race.
The race saw 11 yachts, crewed by amateur sailors led by professional skippers, cover 40,000 nautical miles in 11 months.
The fleet returned to Liverpool Saturday to find the dock crowded with family and friends. Among them were Mr. Macfee’s extended family, including his parents who traveled from Cayman to be there for the finish.
He said it was the perfect end to the race.
“As you get towards the shoreline, you hear the music and the whistles and the drums beating and then you hear that shout for your name and it feels pretty special,” he said. “Everyone had so many friends and family there, it made the finish very exciting.”
With Mr. Macfee at the wheel, the team finished third in the final leg of the race – a short but swift hop from Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Australian Sailor Wendy Tuck became the first woman to ever win the race after leading her Sanya Serenity Coast team to clinch overall victory. Mr. Macfee’s team, Liverpool 2018, were ninth overall.
Completing the round-the-world journey was the culmination of a lifelong ambition for Mr. Macfee, who grew up racing Laser Pico dinghies in the North Sound.
He said, “It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It has been an extraordinary experience.
“At times, we have had beautiful sailing conditions and great people on the boat and it has been extremely exciting. At the other end of the scale, we have had the most dramatic waves and raging storms that have terrified more than half the crew.”
Mr. Macfee, who was made watch leader for the crew of his boat, the Liverpool, said the experience had tested his management skills, as well as his sailing skills.
“I learned a lot about people,” he added.
Among his most memorable experiences were the cityscapes. Being greeted by the sight of Table Mountain illuminated by the lights of Cape Town after a month of endless ocean views is something he will never forget. New York and Sydney were similarly spectacular.
He said sailing around the world was a dream that he had always planned to make come true.
“It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” he said. “There was something that always made me believe I would do it. When I heard about this race, that became my primary focus and I concentrated quite hard for a long time on making it happen.”
Mr. Macfee plans to spend some time in England with family before returning to Cayman to resume working for Estera at the end of the month.