Back to work in Blackpool after a global adventure

Maria put herself through the paces as she travelled from Oz to China to America over the course of three months
Maria put herself through the paces as she travelled from Oz to China to America over the course of three months
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A McDonald’s worker is back on the job – after taking a break to sail round the world!

Maria Smale joined up with her team – Liverpool 2018 – and Blackpool skipper Lance Shepherd, to complete the gruelling Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The race is the biggest ocean race in the world

The race is the biggest ocean race in the world


They began their epic journey from Whitsundays in Australia, before sailing on to Qingdao, China, and across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle.

The trip took a total of three months and consisted of three races.


Maria, who works at the Bank Hey Street branch in the town centre, said: “I had the time of my life out on the water, meeting some amazing people and gaining so much confidence in my abilities.


“I’ll definitely carry on sailing with my local yacht club.”

Blackpools Lance Shepherd  skippered the team

Blackpools Lance Shepherd skippered the team


Lance was picked as one of 12 professional captains, who led amateur teams in the largest ocean race on the planet.


The 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.


Before the race started, he told The Gazette: “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.”


The Clipper Race was the brainchild of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo nonstop 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 being skipper is ‘one of the toughest, but most rewarding jobs’.