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Businessman Glenn Manchett wins epic 11 month round-the-world yacht race

Glenn Manchett enjoying a rare moment of relaxation during a 'social sail' at The Whitsunday Islands off the tropical coast of Queensland, Australia
Glenn Manchett enjoying a rare moment of relaxation during a 'social sail' at The Whitsunday Islands off the tropical coast of Queensland, Australia

When local businessman Glenn Manchett opened a surprise Christmas gift from his wife he could not have guessed it would see him become part of the winning history-making team in a round-the-world yacht race.

Fifty-four-year-old Glenn, a director of the well-known Newmarket and Burwell-based Manchetts auto business, had never sailed before he became a member of the crew on the Sanya Serenity Coast yacht in the prestigious Clipper race, which was to see him complete an epic 11 month, 40,000 nautical mile voyage which ended in triumph at the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool on Saturday.

The race is considered to be one of the most challenging endurance events on the planet and is the only sailing event which trains everyday people to circumnavigate the globe in its 70-foot purpose-built ocean racers. Glenn’s team was led by Wendy Tuck, who became the first woman to ever win a round -the -world yacht race.

Glenn’s gift from his wife, Marie, was to cover the compulsory training for the event and one leg of the race, but when he learned more about the event he decided he wanted to do the whole thing.

His skills as a mechanichelped him win a place on the boat but they were to be tested during the challenge. “Drilling out, angle-grinding or helicoiling, whilst inside a washing machine (Southern Ocean) or up a moving mast, has tested me in new ways,” he said.

Marie decided she would follow her husband and has spent much of the past year away from their Wicken home to rendezvous with him at various ports of call across the world.

“Going on on a jet ski to meet the boat on Glenn’s birthday on February 22 in the moonlight in Sanya in China is one of my best memories,” she said, “along with celebrating my birthday in Panama in May watching them make their way slowly through the canal.”

As soon as the boat leftLiverpool last year Glenn had to get used to the four-hour shift pattern of ‘eat, sleep, sail repeat’ and he had to do something he never did at home, cook.

“He learned to cook for 20 people,” said Marie.

And the dangers of the trip were brought home to all those taking part whena crew member on one of the yachts died after being swept overboard in the Southern Ocean.

For Glenn, who was back at work on Tuesday, the reality of what he has achieved is still hard to take in.

"Sometimes, up on deck, on a cold night with winds and sea roaring so loudly you can hardly think, on a six-hour watch where each time you check your watch after what seems like a millennium and only a minute has passed, I did ask myself why am I doing this?," he said.

"But I know that's not what I'll take away from the whole experience. I'll remember whales breaching. phosphorescence, wild sea states, our crew rapping, spinnaker wraps, the thrill of surfing down 40ft waves, arriving at shore to greetings like those in Punta del Este, Cape Town and Sydney, and the overwhelming tide of support from family and friends."