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Jericho man to set sail to London in last leg of global race

George Stephanos, 53, of Jericho, practices in New

George Stephanos, 53, of Jericho, practices in New York Harbor for the final leg of an around-the-world sailing race that began last August in London and is scheduled to end there on July 30, 2016. Photo Credit: John O'Boyle

Less than 24 hours before embarking on a 4,263-nautical-mile trans-Atlantic leg of a race around the world, George Stephanos of Jericho spent Father’s Day showing his wife and son his temporary home.

“Where do you sleep?” Mark Stephanos, 13, asked his father.

The 53-year-old Stephanos, an operations manager for an insurance company, showed them his narrow bunk below deck on the 75-foot sailboat.

On Monday, Stephanos will be among five crewmates who signed on for the final leg of the Clipper Round the World Race, which started on Aug. 30, 2015, in London and will end there on July 30 if the winds and waters cooperate.

The boat, the PSP Logistics, named after its sponsor — as are all 12 of the boats in the Clipper Round the World Race — was moored Sunday in the shadow of the World Trade Center in Jersey City’s Liberty Landing Marina. The 21-member crew brought on supplies and made fixes like replacing the black grip tape on the wooden stairs leading to the deck.

“It’s holding up OK,” skipper Max Stunnell, 35, of Portsmouth, England, said of the sailboat, which will have traveled 40,000 nautical miles by the time it reaches London.

This year is the 10th race, which runs biennially. The organizers boast that no experience is necessary — though time and money are. The yearlong race, including a month of mandatory training, costs about $72,000, while individual legs cost less — about $19,000 to go from New York Harbor to London with stops in Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. It’s a race where people from different walks of life are equals and crew mates range in age from 18 to 72.

“It’s not till I started sailing around the world that I realized how much I enjoyed land,” said Jaz Fleming, 55, an engineer from New Zealand, letting out a hearty laugh. Life on the water, he said, has a rhythm: “Eat, sleep, sail, repeat.”

That sounds about right for Stephanos.

“I expect the Atlantic crossing to be pretty stressful, so in my time off I expect to sleep,” Stephanos said.

His wife, Roshni Samuel, 52, a physician, said she was happy her husband could do something he loved, but was content to fly to meet him at the finish line in London.

“I’ve earned my luxuries in life,” she said.

The voyage, which stops in six continents, can be dangerous. Two crew members on another boat have been killed during the race — one drowned after being swept overboard by a wave, another never regained consciousness after being hit in the head by the mainsail and possibly the boom.

“It tempers your excitement,” Stephanos said of the fatalities. “It makes you realize the ocean is not very forgiving so you have to be on 100 percent all the time.”

His crewmate Nicola Edwards, 40, a graphic designer originally from New Zealand and on the boat since the beginning, said: “We all know there’s risk.”

Stephanos, who first immigrated to the United States from Coimbatore, India, in 1988, fell in love with sailing during time spent in Australia. He settled in Jericho in 2004 and has raced on the Hudson. He sails out of Oyster Bay on boats rented from the WaterFront Center. Stephanos’ cousin took part in the last race and he followed her voyage online before deciding to fulfill his dream of sailing across the ocean.

Sailing pairs his technical expertise of physics, engineering and geography with his quest for adventure, said Stephanos, who is educated as an engineer.

“There’s a sense of exhilaration when you’re out in the water,” he said. “You’re using nature to get from point A to point B . . . you’re going to be wet and cold, and one thing about a boat is they only get wetter.”

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