Wakefield yachtsman back on dry land after year at sea in the Clipper 11/12 Round The World Yacht Race.

James Holding from Sandal with his dad Arthur.
James Holding from Sandal with his dad Arthur.

HE has sailed the world’s oceans and survived one of the toughest and most dangerous challenges in amateur sport.

But now James Holding, of Sandal, is back on dry land and keen to live a “normal” life again.



During the past year the 38-year-old has circumnavigated the globe as part of a 50-crew team in the Clipper 11/12 Round The World Yacht Race.

And during the 40,000 mile voyage, the former Kettlethorpe High School and Wakefield College student overcame a back injury, was thrown overboard in the Caribbean and ruled the waves in the Pacific Ocean.

Not bad considering a few years ago, the closest he had got to sailing was climbing aboard a dinghy at Pugneys Country Park.

Mr Holding of Standbridge Lane said: “It is amazing to be back home.

“It has been an incredible year and the greatest thing I have done in my life. It was a culture shock to start with, but I soon got used to the crew and sailing day and night.

“Sailing the Pacific was the hardest part of the race. It was cold and very wet. At times it was just a case of hanging on and hoping. But sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was amazing.

“A big wave washed me over the side in the Caribbean, but I was clipped on and the crew were brilliant and soon dragged me back.

“I feel like there is nothing I can’t do, but the first thing is to find a job and settle back in to a normal life.

“The support I have had from my family and friends has kept me going, especially through the dark times when you question why you are doing it.

“I have missed a good cup of Yorkshire tea though and a good roast dinner at my dad’s.”

Mr Holding was on the 68ft long Chinese boat Qingdao, which finished ninth after a tour made up of 15 races through eight legs.

Welcome to Yorkshire, the only English entry in the race, finished fifth.

And John McDonnell, managing director of Normanton-based Harvard Engineering, joined leg eight of the race from New York to Southampton aboard the Geraldton Western Australia yacht.

Mr McDonnell travelled 3,750 miles to see his team finish sixth on the overall leader board.