Irish Garda reflects on circumnavigation challenge

21 September 2014

It was November 2012 when Conor O’Bryne first applied to take part in the Clipper Race. Fast forward two years and the Dubliner is now one of the selected crew members who hope to inspire others to follow in his adventurous foot steps.

“It's pretty exciting to be honest; the day after the Clipper 2013-14 Race finish I saw my face on a huge poster on the London Underground!” reveals Conor, 40.

“I was like ‘oh that's me’. To say I felt proud was an understatement.

“If my poster makes one person stop and take a second look and encourages them to take a leap of faith to fulfill a dream well, I'll be delighted.”

Racing on board Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Conor ranks the man overboard incident of a fellow crew member in the Pacific Ocean as his most challenging moment of race and is clear on the biggest achievement.

“The biggest achievement is completing the race itself.

“The race can be grueling, tough and relentless. I have to admit there were times I wanted to quit, give up and go home. Go home to my comfy bed, to be near my family and my now fiancée, back to reality.

“I'm sure every sailor has these thoughts sometime in their life. If it was easy everyone would be sailing around the world. It’s far from easy, that’s why I wanted to take part in the first place,” continues Conor.

“I wanted the challenge, to prove I could handle being pushed to the limit, to beat the most extreme elements of weather conditions. So when we motored up the Thames on 12 July, I had so many thoughts and emotions filling my head.

“There is a saying ‘sailors have short memories’, its so true, you forget the harsh times and remember only the good ones. So the biggest achievement is that I fulfilled the biggest ambition of my life. The ambition of sailing around the world in a yacht Race.”

A Garda in Dublin before making a 70-foot racing yacht his new home for eleven months, Conor has returned to Ireland hoping to positively use his experiences in his local community.

“At the moment I am in the process of setting up a scheme in conjunction with the Police, where we will take teenagers from disadvantaged areas and introduce them to sailing.

“I want to share my Clipper Race experiences and encourage these teenagers that excitement and adrenaline can be enjoyed through sailing.

“Not only will it improve relationships between the teenagers and the Police but also introduce these teenagers to a different sport and hopefully maybe one day to be future Clipper Race crew.”

Watch Conor's story, here.

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