Lance feeling chipper to be Clipper Race skipper

Sailor Lance Shepherd is to captain a team in a round-the world race

Sailor Lance Shepherd is to captain a team in a round-the world race

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A Blackpool sailor is about to realise his dream of a lifetime after being selected to skipper a team in a round-the-world race.

A Blackpool sailor is about to realise his dream of a lifetime after being selected to skipper a team in a round-the-world race.

Sailor Lance Shepherd is to captain a team in a round-the world race

Sailor Lance Shepherd is to captain a team in a round-the world race

Lance Shepherd, 53, has been picked as one of 12 professional captains who will each lead amateur teams in the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race, the largest ocean race on the planet, when it sets sail in August.

Lance, a former Royal Marine who began his sailing at the age of 14 with the scouts, has followed the Clipper Race ever since it began over 20 years ago.

He was selected after passing a set of intensive interviews and trials.

He said: “The challenge of taking a group of novice sailors, from all walks of life, out of their comfort zones and turning them into a successful round the world ocean racing team will be the highlight of my life, not just my career. It is a privilege to have been selected.”

After 11 years in the Royal Marines, Lance began working as a freelance Skipper and has since gained extensive experience in ocean crossings and yacht racing.

With a dozen teams and 700 participants, the biennially held Clipper Race is the world’s largest ocean race at more than 40,000 nautical miles in length.

Lance said: “Each ocean we cross will be challenging with its own set of characteristics but.

“I am really looking forward to crossing the Southern Ocean.”

The Clipper Race was the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69.

Since the first Clipper Race in 1996, almost 5,000 people have been turned into competent ocean racers.

Sir Robin said: “The role of Clipper Race Skipper is one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs that exists in sailing.”

Lance is now working full-time at the Clipper Race HQ in Gosport, where he and the 11 other Skippers are leading the intensive crew training courses.