AN ADVENTUROUS mum from Leamington says she feels she “can doing anything now” after sailing on a yacht navigating its way around the world.
Marie O’Riley has just returned from a life changing journey sailing on ‘Dare to Lead’, one of 11 boats circumnavigating the globe in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. And the 57-year-old paid a visit to Warwick Rotarians to tell them about her incredible experiences.
Marie, who has never sailed before, decided to book herself a place on the yacht race, having seen the boats in Liverpool dock in 2017. Participants have to self-fund their places at a cost of £15,000 and Marie took part in the 12th race since its beginning in 1996.
This edition of the race started in London back in September 2019.
It is know as one of the biggest challenges of the natural world and an endurance test like no other.
Crewed by amateurs – many like Marie who have never sailed before – the eleven teams each have a professional Skipper and First Mate.
A quarter of the twenty-strong crew sail the full 40,000 miles around the world while the rest join for one or two legs. Marie joined Dare To Lead for the Atlantic Homecoming Leg.
Marie had to train hard for two years in all aspects of sailing a 70 foot racing yacht – including the catering, helm, rigging, navigation, and had to conquer her fears to climb the mast. All participants must be able to undertake any of the tasks on board, with crew split into two watches, racing around the clock, day and night.
With the race already in progress, the fleet was in the Philippines in March 2020 when Covid struck and everything stopped for two years. Eventually Marie was able to travel down to Bermuda in June this year to join the boat and had to remember everything she’d learned before setting off for New York.
Marie recounted about her crew, who ranged from 73-years-old to 22, and the hair-raising seas as they approached Ireland. She also talked of the relentless sequence of watches – six hours during the day then four hourly during the night – sleeping through whatever the weather with exhaustion, preparing meals in the galley, the inability to shower, lack of privacy, using the bunk bed in shifts, and the magic of coming on deck in a starlit night.
The boats arrived back in London in July after Marie had covered 4,870 nautical miles.The yachts were each raising money for UNICEF. By the end of the race, Dare to Lead had the second highest fundraising total of £39,000, including Marie’s personal contribution of £4,040.
Marie said: “I can do anything now.”