Three Olympic and Paralympic British athletes will once again represent their country, this time in a very unfamiliar way - as crew members of the GREAT Britain team in the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

Team GB Olympic Silver Medallist and former Badminton World Champion Nathan Robertson, London 2012 rowing finalist Bill Lucas and Paralympic Champion Charlotte Evans MBE, who guided her skiing partner Kelly Gallagher MBE to Paralympic gold at Sochi 2014, will each sail one leg of the world’s longest ocean race, the only event of its kind that exists for non-professional sailors.

Nathan Robertson is Britain’s most successful ever badminton player. The former World and Commonwealth champion was silver medallist at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with his Mixed Doubles partner Gail Emms and is set to compete in the Atlantic Ocean Homecoming Leg from New York to London via Derry-Londonderry and Northern Europe.

“The Clipper Race experience is going to be very special. It’s going to be one of the greatest things I do in my life, and it may well eclipse the experience of the Olympic Games in terms of pushing myself beyond what I already know,” Nathan said.

“I’m an indoor sportsman and wanted a taste of the outdoor life and the open sea. I’m competitive and I love the challenge. It’s a completely new skill for me and I am proud to be able to represent GREAT Britain in a new sport.”

Recently-retired Olympic rower Bill Lucas, 27, is hoping to build a new career in the sailing world as a grinder once he’s completed the notoriously challenging Southern Ocean crossing of the Clipper Race. Bill’s 5,575 mile journey begins in Cape Town in October and finishes in Albany, Western Australia almost one month later.

“Crossing the Southern Ocean is going to be quite a big test,” said Bill about racing in Leg 3. “I have been used to competing in rowing races which last six minutes. Crossing the Southern Ocean takes more than three weeks.

“Physically, the sailing mirrors our training camps, although at sea it will be over a much longer period. It is going to be a very different experience to what I am used to.”

Bill Sweeney, CEO of the British Olympic Association, said: “Team GB Olympians by their very nature are dedicated, focused and ambitious individuals who are continually working to achieve greatness. It is fantastic to see Nathan and Bill taking on this new challenge in the world’s longest ocean race and we wish them the very best of luck in their new sport of choice.

“With just over one year to go to the Rio 2016 Olympics we hope that our Team GB athletes past and present continue to inspire future generations with their actions during and after their time in competition.”

Charlotte Evans will take part in Leg 5 which starts in the Whitsundays, Australia and races 6,985 miles to Qingdao, China via Da Nang, Vietnam. The 24 year old, who won Britain’s first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal when she was Gallagher’s guide in the visually impaired Super-G event in Sochi, had never sailed before her training and confessed to having a fear of water.

Charlotte explained:“Skiing has been my entire life for so long now and I have always been in a position where I’ve been comfortable. I was totally out of my comfort zone at first during the training, but I have found a challenge and realised I can overcome it which is amazing.”

“To represent my country in a completely different sport will be incredible. When I think about getting on the Clipper Race, I become really competitive. I’m one of these people that just wants to win,” Charlotte added.

In support of Charlotte, Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, said: “Having watched Charlotte compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, I know that she is a fiercely competitive athlete and not one to shy away from a challenge. Although this will most definitely push her out of her comfort zone, I have no doubt that she will excel and make the most of this fantastic opportunity. I’d like to wish Charlotte and her fellow athletes the very best of luck as they take on this exciting new challenge.”

As confirmed last month, UFC fighter turned ambassador Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy will compete in the opening leg from London to Rio de Janeiro on board GREAT Britain.

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