A property developer has swapped bricks and mortar for ships and water in order to take part in a round-the-world yacht race.

James Lawlor, 59, set off from Brisbane, Australia, yesterday on leg five of the race bound for Qingdao, China.

Mr Lawlor, from Epping, is taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to raise money for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, the official charity of the race.

He said: “Most of the time I feel pure excitement and desire to get on and win it.

“However when I read about 120 knot winds across the deck I do wonder if I am bonkers. Only time will tell!”

Mr Lawlor will spend around three to four weeks with the fleet of 670 amateur crew aboard the Jamaica Get All Right yacht, which is currently fifth, in the field of 12 70-foot ocean racing yachts in the race.

Mr Lawlor is also a singer songwriter and penned a single called Seize the Moment which he has recorded onto CD and taken with him to sell in China where he will perform when he disembarks.

He said: "I was inspired to write ‘Seize the Moment’ when I had completed my Clipper Race training and realised how much the challenge meant to me.

“It also helped me express my hopes and a few fears!”

The ships have fridges and freezers on board in order to stock enough food to feed the crew who are each expected to burn around 5,000 calories per day, while at sea.

The 11-month race finishes at St Katherine Dock, London, in July.

To support Mr Lawlor and the trust visit http://www.justgiving.com/James-Lawlor-Singer-Songwriter