Sophie Quintin, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth, will embark on one of the most grueling ocean events in the world, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
The race is a 40,000 mile sailing event divided into eight legs taking amateur crews across the world’s oceans.
Sophie will take part in the final leg, a 5,000 mile adventure across the North Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to New York, then on to Londonderry and London.
The student, who is studying international relations with a focus on African maritime security, had prepared to join the famous yacht race in March 2020.
But due to the pandemic, Sophie’s sailing adventure and plans to do fieldwork in Senegal upon her return have fallen apart.
Two years later, she is about to join the crew of the 70-foot Team Seattle to take part in the race.
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The race restarted in March from the Philippines, with the fleet now heading to Bermuda for the start of the final leg across the North Pacific.
The prestigious yacht race, headquartered in Gosport, was founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who won the first solo race around the world in 1969.
It takes crews on one or more legs of a world tour on 11 identical yachts designed to withstand the harshest sea and weather conditions in some of the most remote parts of the world’s oceans.
Sophie, a qualified skipper, had followed the four weeks of compulsory intensive racing training in the summer of 2019.
Since then she has taken advantage of every training opportunity in the Solent, including competing in two classic RORC races last summer (Round the Island and Cowes-Dinard).
She said: “With many miles covered, my main concern when restarting the race was not remembering knots and paces.
“Getting back in shape after months of injuries at my age has been the real challenge of the last two months while keeping my focus on writing my thesis. Patience, perseverance, effort and lots of support from friends luckily got me fit for duty, ready to be “activated” as a crew on June 15th.
As a research assistant and doctoral student working for the University’s Center for Blue Governance, she participated in its launch in February 2020.
The awarding of the UNESCO Chair in Ocean Governance in December 2020 has re-energized the team with the goals of developing exciting projects in ocean science and education with policy impact.
Sophie intends to use her run to raise awareness about ocean health and governance.
She partners with the charity Clean Sailors and hopes to reach out to the sailing community around the world to inspire other sailors to join in ocean conservation.
She said: “There have been some very positive developments in ocean racing over the past decade, with most major races now engaging in the sustainability debate and taking action to improve the health of the oceans.
“We sailors all need to become ‘ocean ambassadors’ of some sort, not just ‘users’.”
Stage eight begins on June 19 and Sophie will race in Seattle’s purple boat.