When Banbridge resident Tom Teggart bought his father a bottle of Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky for Christmas, he had no idea it would lead to the adventure of a lifetime on the high seas.
The distillery, one of the most northerly on the Scottish mainland, was entering a yacht in the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race and was running a competition to offer one lucky thrill seeker a chance to compete in the famous race.
Tom, a 49 year old clinical psychologist, was awarded the coveted prize and has already competed in some of the races on the ‘Old Pulteney’ yacht this June as they sail from New York to the finish line in London, via Derry–Londonderry and Den Helder.
Tom was given three weeks of training in the English channel before setting off to join the crew for the final eighth leg, of the Clipper Race. Initially disappointment set in when they were hit with a patch of bad luck.
“A few tactical decisions we had taken didn’t pay off and we ended up in a wind hole while everyone else moved ahead,” said Tom.
“It left us at the back of the fleet and the skipper had to work hard to keep everybody motivated. It looked like we had no chance.
“There were 12 yachts in the race and the Derry-Londonderry team led for most of the way. We were 340 miles behind them but managed to finish in third place, just 10 miles behind the lead yacht.
“The team worked very hard and were very focused. We were absolutely delighted to do so well and for me it was very exciting to win this prize.”
While the experience was amazing for Tom, it was certainly not a holiday.
“It was hard work and full on, but really rewarding,” he said.
“There were 17 people on board and we sailed in two watches of eight, with around four hours on and four off. We never had much more than three hours sleep and there were few comforts.
“Everyone shared a bunk with someone on the opposite watch and there weren’t many washing facilities. It’s a tough endurance but very rewarding.”
Tom who has spent 16 days in the race so far, said his employers have been very understanding of him taking this opportunity.
His wife Alana and two children Ella and Connall have also been very supportive and excited about the opportunity.
Following a stopover in Derry, Tom is now competing in the final races of this leg to Den Helder in Holland.
“Our skipper is from Holland so we are keen to do well in this race for him.”
Tom got involved in sailing after recalling a few enjoyable experiences he had as a teenager. He said: “I find sailing exhilarating, relaxing and a great stress buster”.
Tom has one more stop over in Del Helder before completing his big adventure in London on July 12.