Across the sea to help charity

PUBLISHED: 11:55 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

Paula McGeough

Paula McGeough

A FORMER resident of Ireland will be hoping it is plain sailing when she gets a unique view of her homeland later this month. Paula McGeough, 32, who is originally from County Louth near Dublin, will pass every mile of the country s coast when she takes p

A FORMER resident of Ireland will be hoping it is plain sailing when she gets a unique view of her homeland later this month.

Paula McGeough, 32, who is originally from County Louth near Dublin, will pass every mile of the country's coast when she takes part in the Round Ireland Challenge.

Finance manager Paula, who works for Letchworth GC company Basilica, will set sail on April 22 as part of the crew on a 72-foot yacht which will sail around the country in six days.

In all 90 sailors of all abilities will be split between five yachts in the challenge.

Paula's only previous experience of sailing is a few company events, and she readily admits to being "a total amateur".

To prepare for the event, earlier this year she took part in a training weekend in Southampton, where she joined a crew sailing around the Isle of Wight.

Paula said: "The weather was absolutely atrocious so the conditions were horrendous.

"It was very, very hard but I loved it because the people were a great bunch.

"I did say to myself 'what have I let myself in for?' but it's worse thinking about it than doing it."

The next stage of the preparations will take place this weekend when the 18-strong crews for the five yachts will be chosen.

The teams will then sail together in a five-day training voyage to Dublin.

On board the yachts, for both the practice and the challenge itself, the teams will eat boil-in-the-bag food and take shifts on the 24-hour watch.

Despite the hardships, Paula said she will "just get on with the job".

The £4,500 entry fee for the challenge has been paid for by Basilica, and Paula said managing director Nick Gorringe, a keen sailor himself, has been leading the company's enthusiasm for the event.

Paula has decided to use the challenge to raise money for Dreams Come True, a charity which provides experiences for terminally and seriously ill children.

So far she has taken part in a 10k run, and on St Patrick's Day did a 75km cycle in the reception of Basilica's office in Avenue One.

Her company's support will not be without reward, however, as Paula is hoping to learn some tricks to help her back in Letchworth.

She said: "What I want to see is the leadership skills that come from the skipper that I can bring back to work.

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