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A ROYAL AIR FORCE airman from Girvan is on the trip of a lifetime as he takes part in a leg of a round-the-world yacht expedition.

Chief Technician Stephen Smith (43) has been picked to take part in the Exercise Transglobe expedition, which gives airmen, soldiers and sailors an opportunity to sail the world on two yachts.

The expedition, which is intended to develop leadership, initiative and resilience in military personnel, started from Gosport, Hampshire, in July and will sail 35,000 nautical miles. The yachts have called in to marinas at Cape Town, Sydney and Montevideo amongst others.

A total of 392 women and men, from both the reserve and regular services, will take part during the 13 legs of the journey until it concludes back in Gosport in August 2016.

Stephen will be crewing Adventure of Hornet, which is a joint services Challenge 72 yacht, during Exercise Transglobe’s leg 10 from St. Lucia in the Caribbean to America’s Miami. They will cross the Tropic of Cancer, also known as the Northern Tropic, this is the northernmost point on the planet where the sun is directly overhead at noon (local time). He said: “I wanted to gain more sailing experience and see parts of the world I wouldn’t get to go with work.”

Stephen attended Girvan Academy, before he joined the RAF in 1991. He is now based at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, where he works as a technical inspector. When he is not taking part in offshore sailing Stephen enjoys road cycling and restoring vintage Volkswagen vehicles.

Nick Trundle, who is in charge of the venture, said: “Exercise Transglobe will, in the true spirit of service adventure training, seriously challenge all who take part.

“It has been two years in the planning and we are all delighted that it is going well.

“The two yachts are in excellent shape and I believe all those who take part will have experiences and challenges that develop their ability to do their military jobs.”

On the crew’s internet blog on May 27 Red Watch Leader Sqn Ldr Hannah Brown said: “The crew for Leg 10 completed two days of team building and sail training in St Lucia before setting off for the 200-mile overnight passage to Antigua. The passage gave fair winds, some heavy showers but hot conditions on deck and below. Tomorrow we set sail for the British Virgin Islands.”