Barkingside grandmother completes round-the-world boat race

A Barkingside grandmother will return home on Sunday after sailing around the world.

Catherine Draper, 60, has completed the gruelling Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in under a year with a team of non-professional sailors.

They have docked in South Africa, Australia, Singapore and California - and fought deadly storms along the way.

While in the Southern Ocean in October the 68ft yacht was hit by ice, hail and 80mph storms in the Antarctic.

In emails sent to her husband Ian, Mrs Draper wrote: “One hell of a night. Been a storm for a number of hours, now being thrown all over the place, even out of my bunk. Fortunately I was on the bottom bunk and landed on a sail.”

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The 10-strong team had to dodge fishing boats trawling nets “miles long” and giant blue whales, while snatching irregular sleep between watches.

But now the Qingdao crew are due to make a safe and triumphant return into Southampton.

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Mrs Draper retired from her job as a school practitioner before setting sail on July 31 last year.

She said: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year with your letters, emails and prayers, I truly, truly appreciate it.”

She is raising money for children’s charities Stand by Me and School Home Support.

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