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Cypriot woman makes history in world’s longest ocean race

The team's yacht outside Rio de Janeiro

The ongoing Clipper Round the World Yacht Race includes the first Cypriot ever to take part in it and Memnia Theodorou is about to become the first woman from Cyprus to have sailed from the UK to Australia when the fleet arrives into Albany later this month.

Memnia, 32, was only due to compete in the opening leg of the world’s longest ocean race when the fleet set sail from London to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, in August. However, once she got to Rio she signed up for Race 2 to the Cape of Storms in South Africa in which her team GREAT Britain crossed the finish line in first place. Given the team’s success, Memnia, who studied dentistry in Greece, decided she couldn’t leave the race there and signed up for the third leg of eight in this global challenge.

“After completing the Atlantic Trade Winds Race from London to Rio, I signed up for Leg 2. The second leg was a lot more challenging. It was tough weather, big winds and big seas. We all found it quite hard. When I finished Leg 2 I thought the circle would be complete if I did the Southern Ocean leg as well, as it would be a sequence of increasing difficulty in terms of the sailing conditions,” Memnia said.

“I compare now what I’ve seen already, and will have seen a lot of Mother Nature’s different conditions by the time I complete Leg 3. And I can also say I have sailed half way round the world to Australia.”
From her research, Memnia says she is the first Cypriot woman to have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and now onwards across the Southern Ocean to Australia, taking her almost half the way round the world as she will have covered over 15,000 miles during her three months at sea.

“I am the only Cypriot woman who has crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a racing boat. I did some research and could only find one Cypriot man who had crossed the Atlantic on a racing boat before. It makes me immensely proud. To carry on racing to Australia makes me feel great and I am almost certain I will be the first Cypriot to have ever done so which is a fantastic achievement,” Memnia added.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing. It is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.
Twelve teams of amateur sailors race a total of 40,000 miles around the world on board a matched fleet of Clipper 70 foot racing yachts. Around 40 per cent of the crew have never sailed before starting their four weeks of compulsory Clipper Race training.

After the first two races, Memnia’s team, sponsored by the UK government’s GREAT campaign, is top of the Overall Race Standings. They are expected to arrive in Albany, Western Australia between November 22 and 26.

“It would be a dream come true to become the first person from Cyprus to sail around the world but I’m reaching the bottom of my piggy bank at this stage,” Memnia said. “I will have to ask my mum to do the lottery for me if I’m going to continue beyond this leg of the race. Maybe I will get lucky!”

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