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First lady of seafood’s epic ocean challenge

ONE of the seafood industry’s leading lights is readying her own sea legs as she faces up to an epic ocean challenge.

First lady of seafood’s epic ocean challenge

Julie Snowden, Seafish’s Grimsby-based English account manager, is to take part in the Atlantic Homecoming leg of the Clipper Round the World yacht race as part of Team GB.

Setting sail from New York in June, she was inspired by the accounts of fishermen who braved the conditions to land the town’s favourite export when putting herself forward.

The organiser behind Humber Seafood Summit, and many other activities involving the cluster, said: “I wanted to get out there and see what the fishermen endure to catch our seafood and bring it back to us. It was the reason. You can watch Deadliest Catch and talk to the professionals, but to go and experience it yourself will give me so much more respect and appreciation.

It is anticipated to take three to three and a half weeks, sailing first to Londonderry then Liverpool, where it began back in August. 

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She has already hit initial fundraising targets for the Fishermen’s Mission and Yorkshire Air Ambulance, with more than £1,500 pledged, and set up her own website to document the adventure. 

“Everyone is really supportive, and a lot of the Grimsby guys are right behind me,” she said. 

Having never set foot on a yacht two years ago, she now has her day skipper’s certificate and competent crew badges, and has been taken on by a team sailing out of Scarborough, racing in summer and autumn series events, albeit in a 28ft vessel rather than the 70ft clipper yacht.

Julie has also met her partner, Guy Waites, as a result of her exploits. He is something of a sailing legend, having crossed the Atlantic single-handedly four times, including in the smallest sail boat ever. “It is great to have expertise support,” she said.

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Official training complete, she watched the vessel set off from Liverpool to Uruguay on the first leg, then flew out to South Africa for the arrival at the end of the Southern Atlantic second leg in October. 

“I went out to Cape Town to meet the boat and welcome them in. I helped with the deep clean and the build up for the next leg, as part of the sail maintenance team. It is an incredibly close team, and we were topping the leaderboard after race one.”

The most dangerous yacht race in the world, it claimed the life of crew member Simon Speirs, 18 days after departing South Africa for Australia. The 60-year-old retired solicitor was on the foredeck, helping change a sail, when he was washed off the vessel in rough conditions. A sea burial was held after he was recovered, with efforts to revive him by the on-board medical team, which includes a doctor, unsuccessful.

“Not only have we lost a crew member but a friend too,” she said. “It hasn’t put me off, it has actually made me more determined, and I actually went out from Scarborough to race the Sunday after. I was really glad I did, it was like getting back on a horse after something horrible has happened.

“It is a risk, I have always known that. I only learned to sail a year ago, and that feels like an achievement, so what it will be like if we achieve the crossing, I don’t know.”

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