Belfast Telegraph

Conall dreaming of glory as he is made skipper of yacht in round the world race

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland sailor has been chosen as a skipper for the world's largest ocean race.

Conall Morrison is one of 12 who will lead a team in the next edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The 35-year-old from Londonderry began sailing on Lough Swilly at the age of 11.

He has watched the clipper race fleet arrive into Derry for all previous three editions - and is now going to take a leading role in the 40,000 nautical mile race, which starts in August.

"It's always been a dream of mine to circumnavigate the globe," said Conall.

"I've had many memorable experiences on the water, from sailing to kayaking to surf lifesaving, but nothing that comes close to the feeling of competing in the clipper race.

"I feel my background in both racing and sailing instruction will help my team to gel and become better ocean racers."

Conall is the second skipper selected from the area, after Sean McCarter, who led the 'Derry~Londonderry~Doire' team to fifth in the Clipper 2013-14 race.

"I was on the banks of the Foyle to see the fleet arrive in 2016 and it's great to hear the clipper race will return to my home city next year," he added.

"Sailing into Derry-Londonderry will be the proudest day in my whole career."

The race was founded in 1996 by William Ward and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

Sir Robin said: "The role of clipper race skipper is one of the toughest but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing.

"Not only do you have to be a highly capable sailor to be able to complete the relentless challenge of circumnavigation, you also have to be an excellent instructor and leader.

"I wish Conall and his team the best in their clipper 2017-18 race campaign, and as ever we look forward to returning to Derry-Londonderry in 2018."

The Morrison family is no stranger to global competition, as Conall explained.

He said: "My sister Aileen is a professional athlete (she competed in the triathlon in the London 2012 Olympic Games) and my other sister Ruth was an Irish swimming champion.

"I admire their dedication and drive, and now it is my turn to make them proud."

The 11th edition of this unique biennial ocean race will visit six continents and include six ocean crossings.

The 12 teams compete on the world's largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The 2017-18 race will begin in the UK this summer and return almost a year later.

It will once again include a stopover in Derry in summer 2018.

The team with the highest total points at the finish wins the clipper race trophy.

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