Novice Buxton sailor takes on Clipper Race to follow in father’s footsteps

A novice sailor from Buxton has embarked on an 11-month journey of a lifetime sailing around the world.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 12:00 am
Oliver Fort is two months into his 11-month sailing adventure. Photo: James Robinson.

Oliver Fort is currently two months into his epic adventure in the Clipper Race 2019-2020.

The 28-year-old said: “This is amazing and truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“The race has only just started, but it’s been scary and exciting and exhilarating.”

Oliver Fort and his crewmates who are taking on the Clipper Race, which will see them sail around the world.

Oliver started out in London, heading to Portugal and then Uruguay, which was where the Advertiser caught up with him. He is now travelling back across the Atlantic to Cape Town, from where he will travel to Australia, China, the Philippines, the USA and on to Panama and Bermuda, before heading back to the UK.

Taking part in the yacht race has been Oliver’s dream for over a decade and sees him following in the footsteps of his father.

Oliver explained: “My dad took part in the same race 15 years ago. We went out to see him in Australia and I knew then that I wanted to do it myself.”

Oliver had no previous sailing experience when he signed up, but underwent four weeks of intensive training before setting off on his adventure. That makes his achievement all the more incredible.

He said: “I’ve had to quit my job and my girlfriend and dog are waiting for me back at home, but I didn’t want this just to be something I spoke about but never did.”

Competitors can choose to take part in certain sections of the race from port to port, or opt to participate in every stage.

During the race to Uruguay, Oliver and his team finished second overall. He said: “Everyone wants to come first, but to come second is still such a massive achievement.”

The Clipper Race is the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of 11 identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper and first mate to safely guide the crew.

Oliver said: “The best days at sea for me are the days where it’s stormy, choppy waters and you have to all pull together.

“The thunderstorms are spectacular and I’ve never seen anything like them before. I thought I’d be scared but you don’t have time to think, you just have to get on with it.”

It’s the ‘race of their lives’

For Oliver, life at sea is getting easier as he gets into a routine alongside his crewmates.

The boat is constantly manned, and the 28-year-old admits that when he clocks off for the night he falls into his bunk bed to get some much-needed rest.

“I’m already missing a good shower, a proper bed and a bacon butty,” said Oliver, who is due to return home in July next year.

A spokesperson for the Clipper Race said: “Normally the domain of seasoned pros, this supreme challenge is taken on by ordinary, everyday people.

“Having completed a rigorous training course, participants including Oliver are suited and booted in the latest extreme protection gear to commence the race of their lives - an unparalleled challenge where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, students work alongside bankers, and engineers team up with rugby players.”