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All hands on deck as Shauna gets ready for Clipper bursary & Rio

All hands on deck as Shauna gets ready for Clipper bursary & Rio

The second Derry-Londonderry Clipper Bursary winner Shauna O’Neill says that the build-up to her departure from her home town has been as frantic as anything she’s likely to face on board the yacht when it departs from Rio De Janeiro on Saturday September 10.

The 22-year-old will take over from Niall Boyle for the second leg of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Race from the Brazilian city to Cape Town in South Africa. And the Strand Road woman says it’s been all hands to the pump before she’s even stepped off dry land as she rushes round getting herself ready and meets up with friends before setting off on her exciting, ocean-going adventure.

“It’s been very busy between trying to pack and getting vaccinations - all the preparations you have to make. I've just been trying to schedule last minute catch-ups with friends before I set off.  You'd think I was going away forever because I’m booked out,” she laughed.
In an effort to maintain and even hone the sailing skills she picked up on the Clipper training course Shauna took part in the Lough Swilly regatta. It’s fair to say she’s hoping to improve on that experience once she boards Derry-Londonderry.

“I haven’t had too many opportunities to work on my sailing skills. I was out for the regatta down at Lough Swilly, but that was short-lived as the head sail tore ten mins into the race!”
Of course the windy shores of Lough Swilly are a world away from where Shauna will be taking her next step into the world of racing in glamorous Rio De Janeiro. She admits she’s looking forward to visiting the Brazilian city.

“It’s simply amazing to be travelling to Rio I’m looking forward to seeing the statue of Christ
 The Redeemer, and taking in some rays of sunshine on the beach if I get the chance!”
But Shauna is well aware that it’s not some lazy beach holiday that awaits her in Brazil but one of the most arduous and exciting experiences of her life.

“I still feel a little unsure of my sailing skills but hopefully I’ll grow in confidence once I’m on board and my family has been telling me to believe I can do it and try not to panic and most of all just to have fun. I’m looking forward to meeting with the crew again particularly Niall hopefully he’ll have plenty of tips for me. One thing I’m not looking forward to is being filmed, I’m a wee bit camera phobic.”

And Shauna has no doubt that experience of 18 days on the high seas will give her a new perspective on life:

“I’m sure being away from home will give me an appreciation of everything I have. I can’t even imagine how I will feel. I’m sure I’ll miss my family and going out for coffee and lunch with friends and going to my wee prayer groups and mass. Unfortunately none of my family are able to come out and meet me in Cape Town but I’m sure the team will feel like family after 18 days at sea.”

Shauna departs this Saturday to join the Derry~Londonderry Crew and will be ready for life onboard from the 06th September. 

The Clipper Bursary scheme is supported by Derry City Council in partnership with Kick Start to Work. Further information is available on or follow us on facebook Derry~Londonderry Clipper 11-12.

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