Meet Clipper 2017-18 Race Skipper Conall Morrison

30 March 2017

After years of dreaming about it, Conall Morrison is finally about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime as a Clipper Race Skipper.

The 35-year-old from Derry-Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, began sailing at age eleven, when a family friend bought a boat. Weekends out on Lough Swilly were more than enough to give him the sailing bug. By his mid-teens, Conall was instructing for the local dinghy school, and now, he is preparing to race around the world.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to circumnavigate the globe,” says Conall.

“I’ve had many experiences on the water, from sailing to kayaking to surf lifesaving, but nothing that comes close to the Clipper Race. I feel my background in both racing and sailing instruction, particularly the last few years working as a Clipper Race Training Skipper and Mate, will help my team to gel and become better ocean racers.”

“I also hope to test my own abilities to work with people and to lead, and to come out the other side a stronger person.”

As well as having a profound impact on his own life, sailing has also allowed Conall to impact on the lives of others. In 2012, he was the Skipper of Tectona for the Voyage of Recovery, a twelve week, 1,500 nautical mile voyage around Great Britain to aid people in their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

“To be part of something so emotional and fulfilling made me very proud.

“I learnt a lot about myself and my own abilities as well as developing my awareness of others from listening to their stories.”

Conall doesn’t need to look too far for guidance and inspiration for his upcoming adventure. Twenty years ago he sailed on Lough Swilly with Skipper Sean McCarter, who led Derry~Londonderry~Doire team to a fifth-place finish in the Clipper 2013-14 Race. “Sean is a friend of mine from home so it was very inspiring to watch his journey unfold. He definitely helped give me the idea to go for it myself. I talked to him when I was considering my Skipper application and he told me to go for it.”

“Being from Derry-Londonderry, I know exactly what the race means to the city. I was on the banks of the Foyle to see the fleet arrive in 2016 and it was fantastic to hear the Clipper Race will return to my home city next year. I know that sailing into Derry-Londonderry will be the proudest day in my whole career!”

With almost 40,000 nautical miles recorded in his log book, Conall qualified as a Yachtmaster Instructor in 2012, and Yachtmaster Ocean in 2015. Away from the water, he has a Masters of Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Queen’s University of Belfast, and a postgraduate Certificate of Education in Secondary Mathematics.

Conall describes his leadership as relaxed, and is focused on creating a safe and happy boat. But judging by his family, whatever boat he is in charge of could be a real contender once the race begins.

“My sister Aileen is a professional athlete [competed in the triathlon in the London 2012 Olympic Games] and my other sister Ruth was an Irish swimming champion. I admire their dedication and drive, and now it is my turn to make them proud!”

Five things about Conall:

What is your nickname:
Lifetime ambition: To be a singer in a rock band
Biggest pet peeve:
People brushing their teeth in the galley sink!
What is your favourite word: Onomatopoeia
If you could have one superpower, what would it be: To speak to the animals

To read more about our twelve Clipper 2017-18 Race Skippers, click here.

Want to race the world’s oceans? There are limited berths on board the Clipper 2017-18 Race due to start this summer. To secure your place, apply here.

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