TWO years ago the closest James Holding got to sailing was climbing aboard a dinghy at Pugneys Country Park.
But next week the 37-year-old Sandal man will begin his circumnavigation of the globe.
Mr Holding, a marine biologist, will join a 50-crew team taking part in the Clipper 11/12 Round The World Yacht Race.
The former Kettlethorpe High School and Wakefield College student will leave Southampton on July 31 on his 11-month and three-week 40,000 mile voyage.
His proud friends and family threw a farewell party last week as he now focuses on the task.
Mr Holding of Standbridge Lane said: “I have always been interested in the sea and wanted to be a sailor, but I did not think it was something I would be able to do.
“In September 2009 I was watching the news and saw a story about a yacht which had been across the Atlantic and although I had never sailed before, I thought that looks fantastic.
“This trip will fulfil my ambition of sailing the Atlantic and the equator and I am really looking forward to it.”
Mr Holding will be on the 68 ft long Chinese boat Qingdao as it competes against nine other yachts to make it back to Southampton with the most points.
The tour is made up of 15 races through eight legs from the UK to Brazil, South Africa, Eastern and Western Australia, China, California and New York.
It is ten points for a race win, sliding to one point for last place. Extra points are up for grabs through “scoring gates” but teams will also lose points for damage to their yachts.
Mr Holding added: “The worse part will be missing the family. You get used to living your life at 45 degrees as the boat is mostly at this angle.”
He estimates the trip-of-a-lifetime has set him back £40,000 and he has sold most of he possessions for the event.
To follow his progress visit wwww.jimmysailsworld.com