Only a few short weeks ago I had no idea who Mick Liddy was. Now I know him, I’ve been sailing with him and suddenly I find myself committing to a week-long, non-stop, off-shore sailing race around Ireland with him!
To give him his full title, Capt Mick Liddy, is one of the Air Corps most experienced helicopter pilots. He has worked as a Search and Rescue helicopter pilot, amassing 150 Rescues and Air Ambulance calls, and now trains other pilots to do the same. On the water, Capt Liddy is one of Ireland’s most accomplished amateur offshore yachtsmen, he has held two World Sailing Records, won the Double-handed Round Britain and Ireland race in 2006 and won the Maxi World Championships in 2009.
I’m told that The Round Ireland Yacht Race is considered one of the world’s classic sprint ocean races, sitting alongside the Fastnet Race, the Sydney to Hobart and the Newport to Bermuda Race in terms of stature.
Mick and I will co-skipper the boat, sailing clockwise around the 1,400-km loop of Ireland and all its rocks and islands. We will start on Sunday 20th June from the race’s traditional home at Wicklow.
We’re going to race double-handed (just the two of us) in a one-design Class 40 ocean racing yacht and are in the process of finding one for the job! These kind of boats are 40 feet long and designed specifically as a high-performance boat for short-handed offshore racing. It is built to travel at high speed through the most inhospitable conditions the sea can throw at her and is used for races across the Atlantic, such as the Route du Chocolat race from France to Brazil, and other offshore sprints.
The race is exciting, the boat (when we find it) will be a racing machine and I can’t wait to get going in it. However, this adventure is, for the first time, not just about studying how I and the teams I race with react under pressure, it is also part of my commercial partnership with Daft Media.
Last year after getting back from the South Pole I joined forces with Daft as a brand ambassador to help them expand their property advertising website from Ireland into Northern Ireland. South of the border the business operates as Daft.ie and in Northern Ireland we launched Daft.com.
This year, as part of our ongoing commercial relationship Daft Media and I are creating Team Daft. Mick and I, our boat and our shore crew will be known as Team Daft. Over the next few weeks our Team Daft website will be hosted on the Daft Media websites and we will be producing blogs and video diarys of our preparations for the race. By the time we hit June and our boat arrives I hope that many of you will link into our GPS tracker on the boat so you can follow where we are in the race.
Lots happening and getting fully engaged…