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UEA academic set to sail from Africa to Australia for UNICEF

by UEA 14 Oct 2023 05:52 UTC
Prof Maren Duvendack, UEA © UEA

Prof Maren Duvendack, an intrepid academic from the School of Global Development at the University of East Anglia (UEA), is sailing more than 8,000 km from South Africa to Australia to raise money for UNICEF.

The Clipper Round the World race is held every two years, with eleven identical yachts owned by Clipper Adventures racing to circumnavigate the globe over a ten-month period. The race differs from many other round-the-world races in that it teams professional crew with amateurs - according to Clipper Ventures, around 40% of participants are novices.

Maren, who is Professor of Evaluation in Economics at UEA, will be completing one of eight legs of the race aboard Yacht Club Punta Del Este, taking her from South Africa to Australia, a journey of over 8,000km.

Maren's leg of the journey navigates an area known as the 'roaring forties' due to the extremely strong westerly winds that occur between 40 degrees and 50 degrees south. During the journey, the yacht will traverse parts of both the Indian and Southern Oceans - bodies of water known for unpredictable and extreme weather conditions.

Explaining her reasons for embarking on this adventure, Maren said:

"After years of thinking about this adventure, the decision to actually embark on this race was triggered by a terrible car accident a close friend of mine had which left her severely paralysed. This was a wakeup call reminding me that life is short, live it before it is too late, and if you can combine this with fund raising, even better."

UNICEF has been a charity partner of the race since the 2015-16 event, a partnership that has helped to raise more than £1.2m in that time. This year, the race has set a fundraising target of £365,000.

UNICEF's work in providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide is a natural fit for Maren's own beliefs and experiences. She said:

"UNICEF was chosen as a charity by the race organisers, and we all have team fund raising targets and our own individual fundraising pages on Just Giving. As I work in the field of Global Development, what UNICEF stands for is close to my heart. I worked with UNICEF in India a few years ago and it is a pleasure to now be able to fundraise for them."

Although previous sailing experience is not required for enrolment in the event, participants are required to complete an intensive training programme to ensure they are at the necessary level to take part safely. Training is split into four parts, covering; Crewing Skills, Offshore Sailing and Life Aboard, Asymmetric Spinnaker Training and Racing Techniques, and Team Tactics and Offshore Fleet Racing. Each module necessitates around a week at sea to complete.

Maren said: "I have sailed for many years, but the Clipper training was amazing, incredibly thorough with a focus on safety allowing me to consolidate my sailing experience and learn much more, especially in relation to boat management and race tactics."

Maren's leg of the journey departs from Cape Town, South Africa on 16 November, crossing more than 8,000km to Fremantle, Australia, with Maren hoping to arrive at her destination in early to mid-December.

Maren's progress aboard Yacht Club Punta Del Este can be tracked via her team’s virtual hub using the ‘Locate Yacht’ button, and the teams fundraising pages can be found on JustGiving.

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