British Olympic silver medallist and former Modern Pentathlon world number one, Heather Fell will join Clipper Round the World Yacht Race's Team Jamaica Get All Right in its home port next week to sail the remainder of the circumnavigation.
The world’s longest ocean race, uniquely for amateur sailors and known as one of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, will be Heather’s first major sporting challenge since she retired from professional competition earlier this year in January.
Heather, 31, will fly to Jamaica next week join the team to depart in Race 13 (of 16) from Port Antonio, Jamaica to New York on 24 May. On 7 June, the Clipper Race fleet departs New York to start its long awaited final, homecoming leg, racing via Northern Ireland and the Netherlands to arrive in London on 12 July, where it originally started on 1 September, 2013.
Beijing 2008 silver medallist Heather said having only recently retired from the Modern Pentathlon, the Clipper Race would be a completely new challenge but she is hoping to use as many of her skills gained through her professional career to help her through this race.
'My small amount of sailing experience is insignificant in the scale of this but I can't wait for the challenge. The taster I experienced during the Clipper Race training has made me realise what I'm letting myself in for. I've got a mixture of extreme nerves combined with huge excitement.'
Fell, originally from Devon, UK, first stepped on a Clipper Race boat as a child in the inaugural race in 1996 when she visited the fleet in Plymouth before it set off round the world.
'Having been brought up in the West Country I've never been far from the sea and had the opportunity to do a bit of dinghy sailing when I was younger. In 1996 the Clipper Race boats came down to Plymouth for the first ever race and I remember it being a huge event,' she said.
'It was something that seemed so amazing and huge that I wouldn't have even dared to dream about. It never occurred to me that I might get the opportunity to join the race later on. Now I can’t wait to get on board and start the adventure,' she added.
Heather is not the only professional athlete participating in the Clipper Race. Former England Sevens Captain and 2009 IRB Player of the Year Ollie Phillips 31, is a crew member on board Great Britain and Craig Forsyth, 42, on Invest Africa is an ex rugby league player for Doncaster Rovers and York City Knights.
The Clipper Race, now in its ninth edition is held every two years and is the brain child of Sir Robert Knox–Johnston who was the first man to perform a single handed circumnavigation of the globe. His idea was to offer the chance for people from all walks of life to share the experience of sailing around the world.
Pete Stirling, skipper of Jamaica Get All Right commented: 'All the crew are very excited at the news that we will be joined by medal winning Olympic athlete Heather Fell for the four remaining races from Jamaica back to London.
'We are a highly competitive team as has been proven by our recent result in Race 11 from San Francisco to Panama, winning the Ocean Sprint and finishing in third place. As well as being serious about the racing we have always prided ourselves on being a fun boat and have an excellent atmosphere on board with a great team spirit. I am quite sure Heather is going to be a perfect fit and a great asset to the team with her sporting background and high level of competitiveness. We all very much look forward to welcoming her on board in Jamaica.'
John Lynch, Director of Tourism for team sponsor, the Jamaica Tourist Board, said Heather is the perfect addition to its Jamaica Get All Right crew.
'Heather - like Jamaica - is crazy about sport, and she has gained many sporting accolades, including an Olympic silver pentathlon medal. Like our athletes, Heather is hardworking yet fun, full of energy and spirited, and is sure to take to sailing as well as she has done to athletics. We can’t wait to give Heather a warm Jamaican welcome in Port Antonio, where she will get on board the Jamaica get All Right yacht.'
Clipper Round The World Yacht Race
Heather Fell celebrates medal win at Beijing Olympics 2008 - © PA Wire/Press Association Images