Eventing legend seeks new thrill in round the world yacht race

  • Eventer Mary King will be chasing a new adrenaline rush this month when she takes part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

    The 58-year-old rider will be sailing on the race’s third leg, which crosses 4,750 nautical miles of the Southern Ocean from the Cape of Good Hope to Fremantle, near Perth.

    The 70’ clipper Seattle will leave South Africa on 17 November with 20 crew and arrive in Australia around 23 days later.

    It will not be the first time Mary has crossed an ocean — two years ago, she sailed across the Atlantic on an 18-day voyage to help deliver a friend’s boat.

    “I have always wanted to sail round the world, it’s always been on my bucket list, but it’s not possible to take that much time away from the horses, my husband and family,” she told H&H.

    “I thought if I can do it ocean by ocean, then that might be a way of ticking it off. I’ve done the Atlantic, I’m doing the Southern and hopefully over the next few years I’ll fulfill my aim.”

    Although Mary’s father was a naval officer, he was invalided out before she was born, but she said that may be where her love of the water comes from.

    “I always said if it hadn’t worked out with horses then I would have done something with boats,” she said.

    “Growing up we didn’t sail as a family but I went on tall ships as a trainee when I was 19 with the Sail Training Association. That was sailing great big square riggers rather than yachts but apart from that, my experience has really only been sailing with friends.”

    This summer, Mary managed to fit in a month of compulsory training for the crossing around her eventing commitments and said she is very excited about the upcoming adventure.

    “I really enjoyed the training,” she said. “The Southern Ocean is one of the most arduous legs famous for the Roaring Forties — really big seas with strong westerly winds. There are waves breaking over deck constantly — you have to be clipped on all the time in dry suits, it’s all very exciting.”

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    The trip will be raising money for Devon Air Ambulance and UNICEF, and donations can be made through Mary’s JustGiving page.

    Mary will be mixing work with pleasure, also teaching in South Africa before she leaves as well as riding on a safari in Stellenbosch.

    “My family are all coming out to greet me in Australia — David, Emily and Freddie,” she said. “We should leave the boat by 17 December and then we’ll do some travelling before spending Christmas with my cousin near Sydney.”

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