Graduate, then First Mate

Monday 15 May 2023

Fourth-year student Laura Hampton will set sail round the world this summer as part of the Clipper sailing race team, just weeks after graduation.

Laura, who is set to graduate with a degree in Geography and International Relations, will be racing 40,000 nautical miles around the world on board the 70ft ocean racing yacht. She will be First Mate, second-in-command to the Skipper of the 22-strong crew.

The Clipper Race is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Eleven teams consisting of non-professional sailors from a range of backgrounds, nationalities and sailing experience will face the rawest and most difficult ocean conditions on the eleven-month circumnavigation.

Laura, from County Armagh in Northern Ireland, grew up sailing dinghies and raced at a national level before taking up yacht sailing. At just 22, Laura already has 13 years sailing experience, and has clocked up an impressive 11,000 nautical miles.

Circumnavigating the globe has been Laura’s goal since she started sailing, and she has worked hard with the sponsorship of the Royal Dee Yacht Club to gain the qualifications and training required to build a career.

Laura said: “This is a huge achievement for me, and I am incredibly proud to be working for a company I have always dreamed of being a part of.”

Laura recently submitted her dissertation, which brought together her passions for the sea and geography, examining the challenges leisure skippers face when they encounter migrants in small boats at sea and become caught between international and national maritime law. She was supervised by Dr Ife Okafor-Yarwood, the School of Geography and Sustainable Development’s expert in maritime governance and security.

As well as sailing, Laura has competed in rowing at a national level, and captained the University hockey team.

As she prepares for her journey, Laura says: “I am most looking forward to circumnavigating the globe with an incredible group of diverse and driven people. I am most excited to take on the earth’s most remote wilderness in the Roaring Forties leg from South Africa to Australia and the challenges that come with its remoteness.”

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