Calgary man trains for ‘absolutely incredible’ around-the-world sailing race – Calgary |

This summer brings the start of a truly life-changing experience for a Calgary man.


Mark Hagan is leaving his land-locked life behind for an arduous adventure on the high seas.

Hagan is now training to be a crew member on the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race.

It’s a big step into the unknown. As Hagan says: “I’ve never sailed in my life.”

But Hagan’s now putting his longtime career in the oil and gas industry behind, as he plans to leave for the U.K. at the end of July for his final round of sailing training.

The race starts from Portsmouth, England on Sept. 3.

Click to play video: 'Calgary man quits job to sail around the world in international race'

Calgary man quits job to sail around the world in international race

Hagan has already sailed out of Portsmouth on previous training sessions this year, getting a taste of the rough seas ahead.

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“Sixty, 70-foot waves, as tall as the boat,” Hagan said. “For half of the race, we’re on a 45-degree angle.”

Race participants will encounter a wide range of wild weather during the 10-11 months it’s expected to take to complete their 40,000-nautical-mile journey.

It’s an adventure Hagan decided to undertake after reaching his goal of traveling to all seven continents.

“Swimming with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef,” Hagan said. “I’ve been on a safari in South Africa.”

Click to play video: 'AMA Travel: sailing through Europe'

AMA Travel: sailing through Europe

The around-the-world race involves a lot of physical work.

“All the sails we have to move by hand,” Hagan said, ”lifting around 600 pounds for some of the bigger sails.”

Hagan’s been preparing for that with regular fitness sessions with his personal trainer Kai Peters.

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“Mark’s been working harder than anybody,” Peters said.

Hagan is paying about $90,000 to participate in the sailing race, which raises money for UNICEF, the United Nations agency that supports children around the world.

“Some of these kids are just struggling to survive, so anything I can do to help out,” Hagan said.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure others might wish they could experience.

“Just the freedom, to be able to pack up and go sail around the world, is absolutely incredible,” Peters said.

Hagan says he hopes his adventure will inspire others to follow their dreams.

“If I can do this, anyone can do it,” Hagan said. “Try anything outside your comfort zone — life is here to be lived.”

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