Belfast Telegraph

Captain Lights way for Derry in global boat race

By Brendan McDaid

The sailor tasked with leading a Northern Irish crew in one of the most challenging boat races on the oceans today said he was delighted at being named skipper.

Round the World Yacht Race yachtsman Mark Light was unveiled yesterday as the leader of the Londonderry crew for the Clipper 11-12 race.

The 39-year-old will be one of the 10 experienced yachtsmen who will lead an international fleet of teams in the event.

The Cheltenham native has been appointed to the prestigious and challenging position following a rigorous selection process.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted to have got the job. It didn't sink in initially when I got the phone call but then the emails started coming through and it's now all very real. It's amazing — a great feeling.”

Derry's participation will mark one of the city’s biggest celebrations in the lead up to the city's celebrations as UK City of Culture 2013.

Mr Light, whose grandparents hail from Achill Island, Co Mayo, said: “When I got the job I had in mind that I would like to skipper the Irish entry so it's great to have been appointed to lead the Derry-Londonderry team.”

Derry is one of 10 internationally-sponsored entries in Clipper 11-12. They include Singapore, the Chinese entry, Qingdao, and De Lage Landen which will race under the Dutch flag. The race will get under way this August.

Mr Light will lead a crew of 17 or 18 people, some from Northern Ireland — but he won’t find out who is coming with him until April 30, when the finalised team will meet to begin their training.

Mark now lives on the Isle of Wight and hopes to celebrate his 40th birthday in style.

“Sailing down the River Foyle into the heart of the City of Culture to a fabulous reception is going to be unbeatable,” he said.

Background

The Clipper Race celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. It is the only global ocean race open to everyone, regardless of background and sailing ability and is the longest in the world. Almost 500 people from 40 nationalities and more than 250 different professions will race a stripped down, 68-foot yacht 40,000 miles around the world in the event.

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