World sailing

Walworth man embarks on round-the-world sailing race after just five months of training

The road has already seen him brave tropical heat, arctic cold and giant Pacific waves.

A Walworth man has joined a grueling 40,000 nautical mile journey around the world for which he only started training in November.

Paul Harwood is one of nine other Londoners to have signed up for ‘Clipper: Round the world’, a race which sees normal people training to compete in the kind of challenge normally reserved for Olympians.

He is joined by fellow South Londoner Danny Lee of Crystal Palace, who travels the eight legs of the world route aboard Unicef team entry.

Crystal Palace’s Danny Lee is also in competition.

Currently battling waves on the trans-Pacific leg of the race, from Port Luzon, Philippines to Seattle, USA, Paul Harewood said: “I have to say this is the hardest thing I have never made.”

“It’s a racing boat and the work on board is physically and mentally demanding and the conditions are difficult with sixteen people on board living in very close conditions – and often with the boat tilted at 45 degrees.

“But the highlights are definitely worth it. We’ve gone from tropical heat to arctic cold, from storms in the Strait of Luzon to eerie, calm fog filled with dragonflies off Taiwan, to racing a 30 knot tailwind and 10 meters in the North Pacific!

“There’s nothing quite like surfing a 70ft boat on a 10m wave as the sun rises gloriously over gray seas 45 degrees north like I did this morning (April 13 )!”

The North Pacific is so vast that at times the closest humans to the crew have been the astronauts on the International Space Station, 248 miles above the Earth’s surface.

“Clipper: Round the World” provides ordinary people – taxi drivers, doctors and nurses – with specialized training and quality equipment before they embark on the journey.

Paul Harewood, who normally works in software, has completed Royal Yacht Association approved training and the bespoke Clipper Race Advanced Safety Course certificate.

The race was canceled in March 2020 when Covid-19 prevented crews from docking at Chinese ports, but two years later, on March 24, 2022, teams started sailing again.

Manning ‘Dare To Lead’, a 70ft Paul racing yacht, will soon land in Seattle before setting coordinates for Panama, Port Bermuda, New York, Derry, before a final sprint to London in August.

Follow the evolution of the teams on: