A FATHER is preparing to set sail and take part in a challenge of a lifetime in an attempt to raise thousands and mark a milestone birthday.

Kevin Smith who turned 70 this year, is gearing up for the Clipper Round the World Race, described as ‘an endurance test like no other’.

In doing so, Mr Smith - who is married to Joan, 66, and has sons Alyn and Rob - hopes to raise £33,000 for the Abergele Eye Unit.

Video by Kerry Roberts

Mr Smith, of Glan Conwy, who served in the Royal Navy, underwent successful cataract surgery at the unit in 2018; he had the first eye done in January and the second in November.

Mr Smith said: “I joined the Royal Navy in 1965. In the past, I wanted to do the Whitbread Round the World Race but I had an injury and unfortunately wasn't selected. So it has been on my mind since.

North Wales Pioneer:

Kevin Smith of Glan Conwy, prepares for the Clipper Race. Picture: Kerry Roberts, KR160719a

"I have spent a lot of time at sea and have been around the world twice. I have worked for Trinity House.

“I had cataract surgery at Abergele Eye Unit on one eye which allowed me to undergo the training.

"My sight is amazing now and it seems such a simple operation. I asked if I could do something to say thank you, I wanted to give something back. They gave me a wish list. Some of it is beyond my dreams but anything I can do to help.

“I’m feeling excited ahead of the race," Mr Smith added.

"I’m looking forward to it. I like the sea very much.

“I had my 70th birthday in June and I have completed my training which involved safety of the boat, rigging a boat, man over board and all to do with well-being.

“The experience itself will be hard, it is not a holiday. It involves cooking and living in close quarters. We all have to get on with each other and the boat will be at 45 degrees most of the time."

The Clipper Race involves 11 racing yachts who will attempt to cover a record-breaking 40,000 nautical miles.

North Wales Pioneer:

Kevin Smith will head off in September. Picture: Kerry Roberts

Kevin added: "There is about 20 crew on each. On my boat there are nine people including a skipper and mate that hope to go all the way round.

"I think some of the most difficult parts with be in the Southern Ocean, there is nothing much to stop the waves building up and probably the North Pacific because it will probably be quite cold."

Divided into eight legs and 13 to 16 individual races, participants can choose to complete the full circumnavigation or select individual legs.

Mr Smith will leave from St Katharine Docks in London on September 1. The first port of call will be Marina de Portimao, Portugal then Punta Del Este, Uruguay; Cape Town, South Africa; Freemantle in Australia; WhitSundays, also Australia; Sanya in China; Subic Bay, Philippines; back to Zhuhai, China; Qingdao, China; Seattle, USA; Panama; New York; Bermuda and then Derry for the homecoming leg.

Mr Smith added: “I think my wife is apprehensive but we will meet up in Freemantle and Seattle.

“She is helping me with the fundraising and is raising more with her cards.

"The challenge is certainly a good one for the CV."

To donate visit awyrlas.org.uk/roundtheworldforvision or via www.justgiving.com/campaign/kevinsmith