NICK Hannah left his home in Hollybush this week to take part in a 10-month, round-the-World sailing race.

Mr Hannah, a 54 year old retired businessman, is one of 16 adventurers who will crew the yacht Compaq in this year's BT Global Challenge.

He left behind wife Sue and his daughters on Tuesday as he headed for Southampton, where the boat is moored.

After days of feverish preparation, the Compaq and its 11 rivals will cast off on the first leg of the voyage, across the Atlantic to Boston, on Sunday, September 10.

The yachts will then sail in stages to Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Cape Town, La Rochelle and back to Southampton. The race is expected to last about ten months.

Mr Hannah said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"I've been getting ready for this for years," he said. "It's a big step leaving home for such a long time but my family are right behind me. I'll be able to stay in touch with them via e-mail

"I'm looking forward to crossing the Atlantic and to seeing the Southern Ocean. It's something I've always wanted to do.

"We'll be sailing about 30,000 miles and it's all against the prevailing winds and currents, which is why people say it's the toughest yacht race."

The Compaq, named after the computer company which is sponsoring the race, is a 72ft steel-hulled vessel.

Its crew, led by skipper Will Oxley, an Australian marine biologist, consists entirely of non-professional sailors, ranging in age from 23 to 57.

On the Buenos Aires to Wellington leg of the voyage, the crew will be joined by television presenter Chris Serle, who will be making a programme about the race.