Benalla's Ryan Pownall is preparing to take part in the sixth leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.By Monique Freer
Benalla local Ryan Pownall is trading his army fatigues for a sailboat as he begins his preparation for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
The world’s longest and toughest yacht race for amateurs, the race covers 40
Pownall, 25, will take part in leg six of the race, from China to the west coast of the United States, which is known to be the toughest leg mentally and physically.
‘‘There is something about the Pacific Ocean which makes it magnetic,’’ Pownall said.
‘‘I’m drawn towards it, it is the largest ocean in the world. The ocean is something you can’t tame, you are a passenger, it is a thrill and a fear at the same time.’’
Pownall decided to join the race following an ankle rehabilitation, not knowing whether he would get full mobility back in the joint.
‘‘I used the race as my drive to get back to full strength to be able to participate,’’ he said.
‘‘I have always been up for a challenge and am always looking for something different that not many people get to do.
‘‘I believe my army background will prepare me mentally, it will let me transition into the watch system onboard better, and allow me that drive to continue when I’m wet, cold and tired.’’
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race takes place every two years, and brings together a group of strangers from all walks of life.
Many participants have never sailed before, but are led through the life-changing adventure by one professional skipper.
‘‘Just by entering this race and having a go I am achieving a memory that will be with me for the rest of my life, something I can be proud of,’’ Pownall said.
‘‘I hope to get from this race a sense of achievement.’’
Australian skippers or boats have won the past three races, and more than 50 Australians are already signed up for the event, with two Australian boats likely to lead again.
Preparations have already begun for the race, and Pownall is currently with participants in England for three Go Sport training packages.
‘‘It has been some time since I last sailed, I’m hoping to join a yacht club and get out on the water a bit more often,’’ Pownall said.
Although a physical race, Pownall said one of the biggest challenges would be the conditions under which the race operated.
‘‘The most challenging aspect I foresee is the duration of the leg — around 35 days,’’ Pownall said.
‘‘Crossing the Pacific Ocean in the confined space of the yacht with the same people can create difficulties.
‘‘This is where I think my background will give me an advantage as I’m used to being away for long periods of time, as well as living in close proximity to the same people with nowhere to go.’’
The crew will be confined in the small space of one of 12 new 70
The Clipper Round the Yacht Race begins in August, with leg six to begin in February 2014.
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