Shropshire Star

North Shropshire man taking on mammoth sailing challenge for cancer charity

A Shropshire man is heading off on a ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure this week for two months of being cold, wet and sleep-deprived on a yacht in the North Pacific Ocean.

Mark Perkins from Tilstock will spend two months on board Zhuhai

Mark Perkins, of Tilstock near Whitchurch, has wanted to take part in a Clipper Round the World race for almost 25 years after he first saw an advert on the London Underground while working in the capital.

The 55-year-old will now be one of 20 crew on a 70-foot yacht taking on gruelling conditions as the vessel sails from China to America, all in aid of regional charity Lingen Davies Cancer Fund.

“I am quite apprehensive but also very excited about the trip,” he said. “I took the opportunity to raise funds for Lingen Davies Cancer Fund as they do great work across Shropshire and beyond and I hope to raise £1,000 for them.

"Sponsorship has been good so far and I am keen to raise money for their vital work, as people I know have used Lingen Davies in the past.

“I think people know ‘anything can happen at sea’ so it will be a challenge for me, but I have complete faith in the skipper and first mate we are sailing with.

"During the four weeks of training, we had the worst weather possible in the English Channel, and we are expecting the same during the race, which can be stressful.

“I also suffered seasickness in the first few days of training too, so I am expecting that again. I won’t be getting much sleep, all 20 people on board will share beds and sleep in shifts, we have no showers and I’ve been told we will change our underwear one day a week and that your sleeping bag is the most important bit of kit.”

Mark, who was in the Royal Navy from 1984 to 1991, is an experienced sailor and has been on two one-week sailing trips in the past - but on these, they docked each night, had showers and other luxuries. He now works as an IT system engineer and has been given time off work for the race.

The father-of-three was flying to Hong Kong on Thursday, once there, he will board a ferry to mainland China to begin his challenge. He is taking part in leg six of the eight-leg competition and hopes his boat, named Zhuhai, will beat the other 11 taking part.

His section of the race will see him sail from Qingdao, the site of the Olympic Village in China, to Seattle where he will be met by cheering crowds.

“There is normally quite a group that gathers,” he said. “We aim to land in Seattle on April 27 and I can imagine I will be looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”

While at sea, Mark will only have access to one email a day, with no images, and his friends and family will be able to track his progress on the Clipper Round the World website.

Helen Knight, head of fundraising at Lingen Davies, said: “This is an incredible challenge and we wish Mark the best of luck with the race.

“We are delighted he has chosen to support the vital services we offer for those affected by cancer and we look forward to welcoming him safely back to Shropshire.”

Lingen Davies Cancer Fund works to raise awareness about cancer in the wider community, helping to encourage more early diagnosis and greater outcomes for people.

It also exists to fund equipment, technologies, support services, and rehabilitation projects for those living with and beyond cancer throughout Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and Mid Wales.