A retired doctor from Frodsham traded his stethoscope for a lifejacket when he competed in one of the world’s most challenging yacht races.

Richard Brook, 64, completed the Albany to Brisbane leg of the Clipper Round the World 2013-2014 Yacht Race on January 8 and will take to the seas again in June for the New York to London leg, stopping off in Northern Ireland and Holland en route.

Established in 1996, the gruelling race gives paying amateur crew members – who can sign up for as many or as few legs as they like – the once in a lifetime opportunity to sail around the world.

A member of Team Switzerland, Richard was one of 20 crew members competing against 11 others teams and their 70ft racing yachts, all of which are manned by professional skippers.

Team Switzerland after their win in the Hobart to Brisbane race
Team Switzerland after their win in the Hobart to Brisbane race

Richard said: “The race is set up to allow ordinary people who may or may not have sailed before to sail around the world.

“I’ve been a sailor most of my life and I’ve been retired for four years now. It looked like a nice extension to my sailing experience.”

Richard said his favourite thing about the experience was the ‘ sense of awe and power’ at being carried along by the wind.

Richard said the holiday with a difference certainly ‘makes a beach deck chair look rather different’.

“It’s an experience I’m very glad I’m undertaking. It has added a lot to my appreciation of sailing and of what is achievable.”

But even with experience of chartering boats in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean under his belt, Richard found that sailing in the ocean was a different animal altogether.

He said: “Ocean sailing was completely new to me. I’d never been more than 25 miles away from the shore.

“It was really quite dramatic at times to be in very strong winds. You just have to be confident that the boat will handle it.”

Richard enjoyed getting to know his team mates’ and learning what inspired them to take time out from their lives to undertake such a challenge.

Recently back from a holiday in Melbourne and along the Great Ocean Road after his first stint in the race, Richard has a few months to reflect and recover before he embarks on his next month-long adventure in the race’s final leg.

Since the first race in 1996, more than 2,000 people have been transformed into accomplished seafarers.