Sidmouth sailor Noel takes on world’s toughest sailing challenge

Noel Beavis (centre) with his nephew Euan, niece Nieve, sister Trudi Hartnell, dad Chris and step-mu

Noel Beavis (centre) with his nephew Euan, niece Nieve, sister Trudi Hartnell, dad Chris and step-mum Rosie, before he embarked on the Clipper Race. - Credit: Archant

A novice sailor is taking on one of the world’s biggest sailing challenges that will take him 14,450 miles around the globe.

Noel Beavis, who grew up in Lawn Vista, has embarked on the Clipper Race, which will see him spend 86 days at sea, travelling the final three legs of the competition.

The 38-year-old joined the eight-stage race in Quingdao, China, and will sail to America, Ireland and Holland before crossing the finish line back in London in July.

Several generations of his family, including his father Chris and grandfather Les, have been members of Sidmouth Sailing Club.

Chris, 69, said: “You could say sailing is in his genes to some extent, but he had never wanted to do it - he was just looking for a challenge.

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“I think he will come back a different person. I do not think it’s something I could do - it’s a whole different kettle of fish.”

The Clipper Race was founded by renowned explorer Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. It challenges 12 teams, made up of crews from across the world, in matching 70 foot yachts, to sail 40,000 nautical miles around the globe.

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Participants can sign up for the whole challenge or part of the trip.

Noel, a schedule manager for Flybe, left England on March 13 and joined the team aboard the Great Britain for the sixth leg between Quingdao and Seattle, setting out on March 16.

He will remain on the boat until the completion of the race in July.

Chris added: “It must be very uncomfortable. There are about 15 crew on his boat and there isn’t any way to all share the accommodation. You cannot fall out in that situation.”

Exmouth resident Noel told his family two years ago that he wanted to take part in the competition and has undergone intense training to prepare for the event.

Chris said that the challenge was not without its dangers.

On Friday, April 1, Clipper Race competitor 40-year-old Sarah Young died after being knocked overboard by a wave while tidying the cockpit of the IchorCoal.

A minute’s silence was held in her honour as her body was buried at sea.

Chris continued: “Noel’s very determined. He’s very focused once he makes up his mind he going to do something.

“He’s not the sort to stand up on a box and shout about it.

“It’s only his close friends that know much about it. We are really proud of him.”

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