Celebrating half a century taking on Atlantic Ocean
Keen sailor Neil Taylor is planning an unusual celebration for his 50th birthday – taking on the mighty Atlantic Ocean in a yacht race from the UK to Brazil.
The 49-year-old has signed up to take part in the first leg of the Clipper 13-14 Round The World Yacht Race, which will see him set off next summer and return a year later.
"I applied to take part, both as a personal challenge but also to raise money for two charities I support, Cancer Research UK and the RNLI," said Neil.
"I'm trying to raise £1 for each mile sailed, which is going to be well over 5,000 miles."
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Neil is a qualified yachtsman himself but will be mixing with a crew of varying experience under the eye of a professional skipper on the journey, which is due to begin in July.
The information technology company owner, from Ashby, said: "This is something I have toyed with doing for a number of years, from around 2004, and until recently never considered it seriously.
"Then, a chance conversation with a friend, and the fact that the 2013-2014 will coincide with my 50th birthday, led me to look at it more seriously, leading me to apply, and ultimately gain a place on leg one.
"There will be a dozen 70ft boats taking part. Each will have a crew of 20.
"To be selected, I had to prove I could get on with a group of people in cramped conditions."
Neil attended the first training session in the spring and is looking forward to the next one in November.
He said: "Even though I have been sailing for a number of years, I still learnt something. It was an excellent introduction into big yacht sailing with the additional loads and the extra time it takes to get things done.
"I am likely to do as many miles sailing in this one trip as I have covered in the past 10 years."
Neil also loves cycling and keeps up his fitness levels by pedaling miles on the roads around north west Leicestershire.
A spokesman for the organisers of the race, which is split into eight legs, said crew members could sign up for the whole 40,000-mile circumnavigation or one or more of the legs.
The only qualification for the race is the minimum age of 18 – there is no upper age limit.
He added: "It's where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, students work alongside bankers, nurses work with vets and doctors team with rugby players.
"It's an experience that will change people's lives.
"Yet, while the crews may be amateur, no-one has told the ocean that.
"The sea does not distinguish between Olympians or novices and if the Southern Ocean, the Pacific or the South Atlantic decides to throw down the gauntlet, the Clipper Race crews need to be ready to face exactly the same challenges as those experienced by the professional racer."
To donate to Neil's charity fund-raising, search for Neil Taylor at:
To find out more about the event, visit: