Growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, there was not much opportunity for Ashley Skett to get into sailing, but as a child he learned how to sail dinghies on holidays in Cornwall. Once he left school, Ashley, now 31, joined his family business in street market trading before becoming a fire fighter.

It was a trip to Australia which inspired him to pursue a career in sailing, as Ashley explains: “When I was backpacking, I spent some time on a yacht in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands where I can’t wait to go back to for the start of Leg 5! I had sailed dinghies a lot but that was the first time I had been on a larger sailing boat and I remember looking at the guys working on it and thinking ‘Wow, I want to do that for a living’.”

Ashley, who marks being accepted into the Royal Marines as one of his greatest achievements, thinks completing the Clipper Race will surpass that: “Training for the Royal Marines hardened me up and gave me some valuable experience of working together as a team and pushing my limits. The Clipper Race is totally unique so the opportunities to do something similar are very few.

“Without doubt the Southern Ocean is the leg I am looking forward to the most. Rounding one of the great Capes is a big deal for any sailor and I am desperately looking forward to surfing down waves as big as houses and the challenge of sailing in some of the toughest conditions imaginable.”