Year of graduation: 2005
Current employer: Self-employed
Current job title: Professional Yacht Skipper
Current location: Palma de Mallorca
“I have recommended Plymouth University to many friends and contacts. It is a great place to study with a fantastic atmosphere. All my lectures were interesting, taught with enthusiasm, relevant to my career and most importantly, fun!”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
I went straight to Valencia after graduation to hook into the 32nd America’s Cup. I worked for three seasons on a BT-Infonet’s corporate boat during the Cup, then progressed into a 107ft Superyacht as Mate/Engineer. I took my first skipper role on a 76ft sailing yacht with my now wife, Sofia. We sailed around the world in 18 months with the World ARC.
I loved the offshore sailing and missed racing so my next role combined both as skipper of a Clipper Round the World Race yacht. I am currently involved in a number of activities ranging from public speaking and business coaching on one hand, to building an offshore racing campaign to challenge for arguably the toughest sporting event in the world: The Vendee Globe Race. On 6th November, 2016, 25 sailors will depart France racing single-handed, non-stop around the world.
Has your career path changed since graduation?
In the last 10 years since graduation, my longest time with one employer has been about 18 months so there is a lot of change but always on more or less the same path. Variety is the spice of life and as long as you’re moving in the right direction, change is not a bad thing, just a quicker way to gain experience.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
While racing across the North Pacific last April, we lost a crew member overboard in stormy conditions. Having someone’s life hanging in the balance with 15 other crew members looking to you for leadership was extremely challenging to say the least. Thankfully we successfully recovered Andrew Taylor after an agonising 90 minute search.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
For the most part, yachting is a fun and exciting career. I’ve been privileged to sail on some of the most amazing boats in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. For me, racing is the best part and in particular winning our division in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart as well as the Clipper North Atlantic leg from New York to my home town of Derry-Londonderry.
I am also hoping to be the first Irish sailor to complete the Vendee Globe Race, a single-handed, non-stop race around the world. Only 70 skippers have completed the race since the first edition in 1989. To put this in perspective, over 5000 have summited Everest. 500 astronauts have been into space. If I manage to raise the sponsorship and complete the race, I will, however, be the second Plymouth alum to manage this feat. Conrad Humphries finished 7th in the 2004/05 edition!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Take every opportunity to get on the water, gain experience and get courses under your belt. Plymouth University is the perfect spring board to achieve this and if you decide a career in yachting is not for you, at least you have a degree.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
The choice of marine topics and ability to tailor the modules you study to suit your career path was a great part of studying at Plymouth. I went down the advanced navigation route and got subsidised Yacht master certificates that stand by me (and my CV!) to this day.
I have recommended Plymouth University to many friends and contacts. It is a great place to study with a fantastic atmosphere. All my lectures were interesting, taught with enthusiasm, relevant to my career and most importantly, fun!
Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?
I stay in touch with friends from my course. The funny thing was that during the regatta, I met and raced with a Plymouth alum who had graduated with a similar degree to me and was now working for a shipping company that specialised in moving private yachts around the world. Small world for Plymouth alumni…
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