Strangford Lough Yacht Club’s Phil Quinn has been selected as the skipper to take charge of Qingdao for legs 5-8 of The Clipper Round The World Race.
He has described the selection as “a great privilege”, as Qingdao is the longest running partner of the Clipper Race and it highlights how well Phil is regarded as a skipper on the international stage.
After flying out to Airlie Beach, Australia on 14 January, he will spend time settling in with the team before they set off for their final destination of Portsmouth, England.
The 40,000-mile ocean race was developed by Sir Robin-Knox Johnson in 1996 and offers offshore sailing opportunities to beginners. This means Phil will have the added challenge of teaching relative amateurs.
Speaking about this he said: “I have found there is great satisfaction in taking complete amateurs and non-sailors and training them up to race around the world."
Phil brings years of experience to the Qingdao team. He began sailing at Strangford Lough Yacht Club aged 12, competing in a mirror dinghy. Since then, he has completed in two Fastnet races and two Round Ireland races, as well as smaller cross-channel or Irish Sea races.
He has also built his keelboat experience by gaining Day Skipper and Yachtmaster qualifications and completed a number of yacht deliveries on behalf of others around UK and Ireland and from the Mediterranean.
“I hope to gel with the team and both I and my first mate have spoken about what our thoughts are but we will have meetings with the crew in Australia to plan the way forward and to make sure we go forward as a team.
“I will be taking over as skipper in Airlie Beach, Australia until race finish in Portsmouth towards the end of July. There are still some hard legs to be completed, North Pacific and North Atlantic and while offshore ocean racing is not all easy, there is still a lot of work and racing to be done.
“I had always planned to sail however my wife has no interest and it was suggested to me by someone who had competed in the race that I would be suited to it. At the time I didn’t know a lot about it but the more I investigated the more it seemed that it would be for me.
“Of course, there are nerves. I’ve a lot to live up to and a lot of responsibility in keeping up to 22 people safe on the boat.”