After years of dreaming, Conall Morrison is finally embarking on his adventure of a lifetime.
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, and by his mid-teens, Conall was instructing for the local dinghy school. He has been a professional seafarer for the past eight years, and since 2015, has worked as a Clipper Race Training skipper and mate.
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.
Conall doesn’t need to look too far for guidance and inspiration for his upcoming adventure. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Derry-Londonderry Skipper Sean McCarter, who led Derry~Londonderry~Doire team to a fifth-place finish in the Clipper 2013-14 Race, and has also witnessed the fleet’s warm welcome into port in Derry-Londonderry during the last three editions of the race.
"As a native of Londonderry, I’ve been aware of the race for a long time and have friends that have taken part in the past," says Conall.
"I can’t wait to be one of them and to sail around the world and into my home port of Derry will be something special."
With almost 40,000 nautical miles already 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 I hope to make them as proud as they’ve made me."