Dromara woman in round the world race

Sarah Thompson
Sarah Thompson

A Dromara woman will set sail for Rio de Janeiro at the end of the month as she embarks on a globe-spanning adventure of a lifetime.

Sarah Thompson will be at sea for about 33 days as a member of one of the 12 amateur crews hoping to cover 5,630 miles during the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The yacht Sarah Thompson will be racing to Rio. Credit: onEdition The Clipper Fleet 2015.

The yacht Sarah Thompson will be racing to Rio. Credit: onEdition The Clipper Fleet 2015.

Sarah, daughter of First Dromara Presbyterian Church minister Shaw Thompson, explained what drew her to the challenge.

She said: “The boats were in Trafalgar Square and my mum picked up a leaflet for me. I started watching it and it seemed a great adventure.

“Both sides of my family have been going to sea to make a living for generations. My dad was a Portavogie fisherman before he became a “fisher of men” so this challenge honours that tradition.”

Sarah retains a strong connection to the wider Dromore area (her parents still lives in Kinallen) despite now living and working in London.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race involves 12 amateur crews taking 12 identical 70 foot yachts and racing them hard around the globe. The only professional sailor on board each yacht is the skipper.

The race is made up of eight legs comprising 14 races covering over 40,000 miles.

Sarah said: “I’m in the Derry-Londonderry-Doire team, led by skipper Daniel Smith. You can imagine how thrilled I am to have joined the team most closely associated with Northern Ireland.”

Sarah is under no illusions about the scale of the challange that lies ahead.

She said: “The sailing and racing are a big part of the challenge and we will face that as a team. As an individual, the living conditions are demanding. We must become experts at living in a confined space with 20 other people.

“Privacy is limited; there are no cabins and no bathing facilities on board.”

Sarah is excited but nervous ahead of the race.

She said: “I’m excited. It’s a big adventure and a holiday and it will be good to have a break from work. I’m nervous as well.

“It will be dangerous. the boat looks very big in the harbour but we will be really small in the middle of the ocean.”

Before competing, each crew had to complete four levels of training, giving them the ability to cook, clean and race aboard a clipper 70 yacht. They also covered yacht maintenance and management, survival at sea and weather routing.

Sarah said: “Our training aims to make us a self-sufficient unit, capable of handling any situation even in extreme conditions. Making sure we all get to port safely is our number one priority and our training reflects that.”