This time last year David Pollock was unemployed, had struggled to hold down a job and wasn’t sure where life would take him but one thing is certain, he did not think several months later he would be flying to Australia to compete in the world’s longest ocean race.

David is a recipient of Race Partner Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Your Next Chapter bursary scheme, designed to encourage people who are unemployed to develop skills that will help them get back to work.

He is the first of five bursary candidates competing in the Clipper 2015-16 Race on board Derry~Londonderry~Doire and is leaving from Albany today to complete in the Australian Coast to Coast Leg. Here he tells us how his life has already changed thanks to the opportunity the council and Clipper Race has given him.

Name: David Pollock
Age: 31
Hometown: Derry-Londonderry
Nationality: British
Signed up for: Leg 4, Derry~Londonderry~Doire

I’m really excited, I don’t have any worries or fear. To be honest I don’t think it’s actually sunk in yet that I’m doing this because this time last year I wasn’t even working. I found out about the Your Next Chapter bursary and at the time I would have applied for anything just to get work. I filled out the form and forgot about it until I got called for an interview. Then when I got it I couldn’t believe it!

Since doing my Clipper Race training, I’ve discovered that I love the water and have no fear of it. I’ve always had dead end jobs, things I wouldn’t have been able to make a career out of, but when I get back from the race I would really like to start focusing on getting a career for myself. I’m not sure yet what that might be but maybe I’ll learn a trade or something because I’ve always thought I would enjoy that sort of work.

During my Level 3 training in Gosport, I met a guy called Chris Ingram and he is actually here in Albany now because he sailed the Southern Ocean on ClipperTelemed+. Chris is really down to earth and we got on well. At the very end of the training week he asked me if I was doing anything at the end of August. He said he was taking his children on a sailing holiday in Greece and needed an extra pair of hands on the boat and asked me to think about whether I would want to join them. I didn’t even have to think about it! I just said straight away I’ll go, no problem. It was class, sailing around the Greek Islands! We pulled into all these different wee harbours every night, it was brilliant! I was really chuffed that Chris asked me in the first place because there were loads of us on the boat. I broke my finger on the first day of that training week but I still got stuck in and did everything, so he must have seen that I didn’t hang about and still went for it.

In the beginning I had my heart set on the Rio to Cape Town leg, but once I started reading up on all the races, I really think I’ve got the best one. In Leg 4 you get to see so much of Australia. I’ve never been to Australia before but it was on my bucket list to go and I have friends in Perth who I plan to visit before I come home. I’m really looking forward to sailing into Sydney Harbour and past the Opera House.

I’d never heard of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race before but I’ve been googling away at it since I found out I’d be taking part and cannot believe I’ll be racing in such a big event. I can’t wait, even my granny is over the moon about it! It’ll be brilliant when we get to Hobart too because we’ll be spending New Year there and apparently everyone from all the boats will celebrate together. That will be unbelievable too. I’ll not want to come home you know!

I’ve never been away from home for Christmas. Every 31 Christmases I have had have been in my mum’s kitchen. I’d always go home for my Christmas dinner, so this is my first time being away but I don’t mind one bit. At the end of the day I know I’ll be there next year and I’ll be able to Skype them all for a chat that day too. Everyone at home is really supportive and they had a big party at the weekend to wish me well. We rented out the top floor of my local pub and a couple of my friends DJ’ed. My mates love that I am doing the race and we have great banter about it.

My team Derry~Londonderry~Doire is doing unbelievably, it’s fantastic to see. It doesn’t surprise me though because Daniel our Skipper knows exactly what he’s doing, he’s well tuned in. It’s great to know that I’m going to a happy boat too, I’m sure we will have a bit of craic but I’m determined to work hard and bring my competitive nature and ability to handle pressure. I really want us to win the next race, we’ve had a couple of second places but we are top of the Overall Race Standings now and I think we’ll get the next one, one hundred per cent.

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