A FORMER navy diver is preparing for an epic challenge in the world's longest ocean race.
Graham Calvert has been selected to sail in the final four legs of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race, from Australia to Liverpool via Singapore, China and North America.
Having spent seven years in the Royal Navy, the 51-year-old property developer is familiar with the power of the sea - but he knows that his time aboard a racing yacht will be quite different to his experience of warships.
'I have long had an ambition to have travel the world,' said Graham, who lives in Stoak. 'But until I signed up, I'd just done some coastal sailing courses. It's a bit like taking your driving test and then doing a rally!
'Sailing back into Liverpool next year when it's the European Capital of Culture will be the icing on the cake.'
The race begins in September from Liverpool, lasts 10 months and takes in 35,000 miles of ocean racing.
Competitors receive intensive training before they race across thousands of miles of ocean aboard the 68-foot yachts. Crew members will take turns to cook, clean and carry out repairs as well as sail the yachts.
Graham, who applied for a place in the race after seeing an advertisement in a national newspaper, hopes to raise money for Children in Need and is appealing for sponsorship to help him meet costs and raise funds.
'The main thing I'm looking forward to about the race is developing the confidence to survive in the middle of an ocean,' he said. 'If I can learn to live with that then it'll stand me in good stead. I'll miss playing golf though!'
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was established a decade ago by the highly-respected sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. He was keen for amateur sailors to experience the adventure and rewards of ocean racing, previously only enjoyed by the privileged and the professional.
Anyone over the age of 18 can enter, and there is no upper age limit. Competitors signed up for the race - 40% of whom had no sailing experience before signing up - already include a vicar, a housewife and a postman.
Graham added: 'I would definitely encourage other people to take part in the race, as long as they've got the right attitude. It's not a jolly, it's a challenge. You can get a great deal out of it if you put in.'
* For further information on applying to become a crew member in the sixth Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, contact Clipper Ventures on 02392 526000 or e-mail David Cusworth, Clipper crew recruitment manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org