Andy Camarda, assisted by Markell Pool, sails in Milwaukee last year. (Catherine Hackbarth/For…)
Andy Camarda of Albany Park didn't want to wake up 10 years from now wondering what it's like to have traveled the world.
"I've decided that the whole corporate thing isn't for me," he said.
So the 25-year-old recruiter decided he was going to do something about it.
"I'm gonna go sail around the world," he said. "My boss is excited for it actually. He is totally behind me."
Camarda will leave his job in July and travel to England to participate in the Clipper Round the World race. He'll be part of a team composed of novice and experienced sailors alike broken up into teams racing 40,000 miles around the world. The race actually is 15 individual races over eight legs, and overall points will determine the winner.
"I'll have access to email and I'll be with a crew of people who I've never met before, but that's part of the adventure," Camarda said. "Everyone else is going to be amateur. Some of these people haven't even sailed before."
Camarda, an experienced sailor, hasn't quite gone as far as he's about to.
He's completed the 300-mile Race to Mackinac from Chicago six times but said the distance of this one and the length of time he'll be at sea isn't his primary concern right now.
"The starting of the race is what I'm least nervous about," he said. "The fundraising and the time leading up to it is going to be the hard part."
That's because sailing around the world in a yacht isn't exactly an inexpensive endeavor.
"The race itself costs $65,000, plus another eight to 10 grand in incidentals while I'm on shore in between races," he said.
That's not the kind of coin Camarda has just lying around. Right now, he's got around $8,000 of his own money.
"I am begging, pleading people to donate money," he said. "I'm scheduling events. I don't have everything set in stone. It's going to be a huge fundraising effort. I have no idea how that's going to go or even if it's 100 percent going to work out."
The rest, he said, is going to come from sponsors, donors and a planned Kickstarter.com campaign. He has signed up for the first half of the race and plans on ceding his spot to someone else if he can't come up with the rest of the money.
"I don't want to sign up for the complete thing and take that away from someone else," he said. "I'll have to find a way, take a loan. We'll figure it out."
While he knows there are a lot of other things he could be doing with $75,000, he said you can't put a price on the peace of mind that comes with knowing you chased your dreams.
"It seems like a much better alternative than spending the next 10 years sitting behind a desk," he said.
It also means leaving his girlfriend of nine months, 24-year-old Riverside resident Mary Hudecek, behind while he chases his dreams.
"It's gonna be hard for me because I will miss him, but I don't want to say 'You can't go sailing because I'll miss you,' " Hudecek said. "I'm with him 100 percent on this."
Once he heads to England in July, Camarda won't see the continental U.S. again until at least next April, during the seventh leg of the race that will take sailors around California's Baja Peninsula and through the Panama Canal before finishing in New York.
Hudecek said she's going to try to meet up with him when the race takes him to South Africa in October.
"He said he can make phone calls on the boat and he's going to send me pictures," she said. "It's 11 months, but we both want this to work, so I think we can handle it."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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