Gibson set to hit the high seas
THE way Ed Gibson sees it, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, an epic 11-month marathon journey, is his long-service sabbatical.
"I've worked for 38 years with very few holidays so for me it's an opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do," he said.
"I think I deserve it."
The Clipper Round the World departs from London on September 1 and covers 65,000km across six continents before crews tie up for the last time in the summer of 2014 in London.
Gibson, the group general manager at the Hervey Bay Boat Club, said the race prides itself on giving people from all walks of life and different countries a chance to take part in the longest ocean race.
"We're actually paying for the pain, because we want to tick our boxes; we want to climb our Mount Everest," the 55-year-old said.
Ever since Gibson was a young chap listening to his father Bob, a former master mariner in Papua New Guinea, tell sailing tales, he has longed to circumnavigate the world by boat.
He will be one of the 22 crew on one of the matched fleet of 12 70ft Clipper yachts that will sail through some of the planet's most treacherous waters, battling freezing cold winds, giant waves and seemingly endless calms while crossing the equator three times.
Some of the most popular destinations the race takes in Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Qingdao in China, New York, as well as competing in the 69th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Having been a keen sailor all his life, Gibson, who flew out to London on Monday, said he wanted to take the plunge before he gets too old to do it.
"I'm really excited by the opportunity," he said.
"The stories I will have to tell I'll be telling for years.
"Being away from family will be tough, but they have been very supportive and they want me to do it."
Gibson received his acceptance onto the race 18 months ago and has since been preparing for the gruelling globe-spanning race, making three trips to London to complete eight weeks of intense training.
"You're doing it very tough, day-in day-out, 24 hours a day and there's no escaping," he said.
"You can't step off and say 'I want to get out of here'.
"No one can do that, you have to toughen up every single shift."
While it's one of the most physically demanding challenges in the world, Gibson said the greatest test would be having the mental fortitude to cope with being on a boat for a month on each leg with virtually no privacy.
"I wanted to know what it would be like to work on a boat when you have 22 people in a confined space for 67 weeks," he said.
"Then you have to eat, sleep, get on together, race together and maintain the boat and not lose sight of what you're there for.
"If I don't get on with someone, how am I going to handle it?
"For some of them this is probably their first or second time in a long race, so it should be interesting."