BEFORE now his only sailing experience was in a dinghy on the River Hamble.

But Alresford banker James Shepherd will fulfill a childhood dream this month when he embarks on an epic journey around the world.

He and dozens of other amateurs are days away from the start of the 40,000 nautical mile 2015/16 Clipper Round the World Race.

James, 30, of Greys Farm Close, Cheriton, has secured a year off work to take on all eight legs for the Mission Performance team.

It is an ambition in the making since he witnessed a talk on sailing the world at Winchester College aged 13.

He said: “I think it’s the right time as I am financially secure at home and in a couple of years time it could be more difficult.

“I think the most challenging thing will be for everyone to motivate themselves in the toughest of circumstances. The personal relationships on board are very important because you have 21 people on a boat in a confined space so there will be a lot of tension. We need to be able to motivate each other to carry on.”

The 12 teams set out on the first leg from London to Rio de Janeiro on August 30.

After docking in Rio, the race continues via Cape Town in South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, China, Seattle, Panama, New York, Derry, Dan Helder in the Netherlands before finishing in London next July.