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Conrad David Humphreys (born 13 February 1973) is a professional yachtsman, adventurer and motivational speaker. Conrad has competed in three round the world races, two fully crewed (Whitbread Round the World Race 1993-94 and the BT Global Challenge 2000-01 and one single handed (Vendee Globe 2004-5) He has also competed in the Transat (2004), the Route du Rhum (2002, 2014), the Transat Jacques Vabre (2003), the Archipelago Raid (2008-2011) the Extreme Sailing Series (2005-7) and La Solitaire du Figaro (2011).
In his most recent adventure, Conrad was the First Mate and Ant Middleton was Skipperf or Channel 4's re-creation of Captain Bligh's epic voyage of survival. As the sailing master he was responsible for ensuring the team's safety, navigation and sailing of Bounty's Launch as they set out to re-trace Bligh's 4000 mile voyage in a tiny 23 foot open boat from Tonga to Timor. The story is part of new 6 part documentary series for Channel 4 and broadcast in the UK from the 6th March 2017.
Early life and education
Conrad was born in Exeter, Devon on the 13th February 1973, the youngest of four siblings. Growing up in Exmouth, Conrad loved sport and played competitive rugby for Exmouth Rugby Club and for the County of Devon whilst at school, but it was the draw of the sea that held his true ambition. As part of the Exmouth Sailing Club, he competed in 2 Cadet world championships, winning the Junior Worlds in Holland 1989 and finishing 6th at the 1990 Cadet Worlds in Poland. It was at this point, he was asked to join a youth team preparing for the Fastnet in 1991, winning the Fastnet overall thrust him into the world of ocean racing. (Conrad was to win the Fastnet race overall for the second time in 1997 with Ross Field on board the Ericsson 80 “Banque Internationale Luxembourg”)
Conrad attended Exeter College, initially training to become a journalist, but the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1993-94 pulled him away from his studies to race around the world at the tender age of 19 years. He was to return to the University of Plymouth where he graduated in 1997 with a BSc in Ocean Science and Meteorology. Conrad was also later awarded an Honorary Master of Science from Plymouth University in 2005.
Combining both his passions (sport and the outdoors) Conrad founded Sport Environment, a sports marketing consultancy in 2001 and has worked with a number of leading brands, organisations and charities in both sailing and outdoor events. His creative drive and passion has led him to doing some pioneering work using sport as a catalyst for change. As a former Board Member of Sport England, he is particularly interested in using sport as a creative tool for engaging people with the issues that society faces.
Conrad is also a motivational speaker and coach and has worked with a number of organisation with organisational change. He’s a passionate speaker and give talks about culture, leadership, agility and teamwork.
After racing in the 1993-94 Whitbread, Conrad skippered the student yachting team whilst at Plymouth University to success winning the BUSA Student Yachting Nationals and finishing 2nd at World Championships.
At the end of his studies, he applied for a place to Skipper one of the BT Global Challenge 72’s in the 2000-01 edition of the race. Conrad and his LG FLATRON team went on to dominate the race setting a record pace and winning four out of seven legs. At just 26 years of age, Conrad became the youngest winning skipper in the history of the race.
In 2001, Conrad teamed up with Mike Golding as navigator for the EDS Atlantic Challenge, competing two transatlantic crossings and finishing 3rd in the inaugural edition of the race. He later joined Will Oxley for the 2001 edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and went onto race in the Sydney Hobart as navigator for Commodore, CYCA, Matt Allan’s Ichiban 70 in the next five editions of the race, coming close to winning the race overall in 2003.
In 2003, Conrad secured sponsorship with Motorola for the Transat Jacques Vabre and raced double-handed with Australian speedster Paul Larsen. The duo won the 50 ft class by over 500 miles. The result gave him the opportunity to pitch a campaign to Motorola for the 2004-05 Vendee Globe.
On 20 February 2005, Conrad became only the 5th British sailor to complete the Vendée Globe. He finished 7th after 104 days at sea in what has been acknowledged as one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of the Vendée Globe race.
Conrad would later sell his Open 60, Hellomoto to yachtswoman Dee Caffari and moved into the Extreme 40 Class again with Motorola competing in the inaugural edition of the Volvo Extreme Sailing Series during the Volvo Ocean Race. Conrad selected Leigh McMillan as Helmsman for the campaign, which would see them finish 3rd overall, winning the final event in Rotterdam.
Multihull sailing was taking off and as the Extreme Sailing Series grew, Conrad teamed with DMS as main partner for the Archipelago Raid 2007. The tough Scandinavian event is an incredible endurance race in small 18 ft Formula 18 catamarans. Conrad and teammate Ryan, would sail 4 editions of the Archipelago Raid, finishing 4th in the 2008 edition of the race.
In 2011, Conrad again teamed up with sponsor, DMS for the La Solitaire du Figaro, the un-official World Championships for single-handed sailing. Conrad sailed under the banner of the Artemis Academy which was set up by OC Sport to support talented solo sailors.
After a break from solo sailing, Conrad returned to race in the 2014 edition of the Route du Rhum with the Class 40, sponsored by Cat Phones and Bullitt Group. After a difficult start to the race, he suffered a dismasting 400 miles west of Lisbon and had to retire from the race.
Mutiny - Recreating Captain Bligh epic voyage of survival
In 2016, Conrad was recruited to be the professional skipper on board the ambitious recreation of Captain Bligh’s 4000 mile voyage in an open 23 foot boat from Tonga to Timor for Channel 4. Using traditional navigation equipment and surviving off the same meagre rations as Bligh, a team of nine men led by SBS soldier, Anthony Middleton were cast adrift to recreate one of the world’s greatest open boat voyages of British history.
In 2007, Conrad founded the Blue Project, a social enterprise to encourage people to connect and protect our blue environment. Between 2007-2017, the Blue Project (now Blue Foundation) celebrated a number of achievements, including creating the award-winning Blue Mile, a series of watersports and educational events that immersed participants across the UK and promoted environmental conservation. The Blue Project supported leading charities, WWF, Marine Conservation Society and the Shark Trust raising funds to support their much needed work.
Conrad is a trustee of the Island Sailing Trust, a local sailing charity that supports young, disabled and disadvantaged children by taking them sailing on three classic yachts, Pegasus, Moosk and Tectona.
Conrad married Vikki Cheung in 2002 and they have two children, Katelyn and Isabel. They live in Brixton, South Hams, Devon.
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