A Maltese man living in Australia yesterday started the second leg of his round the world trip and left Port Stanley in the Falklands heading for Falmouth, England, where he is due to arrive in June.

Alex Whitworth, 62, together with Peter Crozier, 59, set sail from Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day on the Berrimilla, a 33-foot yacht built 27 years ago.

On January 3, they set sail to the Pacific Ocean, then headed south towards the Horn and from there on to Port Stanley.

The two men stayed at Port Stanley for a week to replenish supplies, carry out repairs and spend some time on land after almost three months at sea.

While in Port Stanley, the two were involved in a series of projects. Mr Whitworth discovered that the annual Falklands Islands Marathon was on last Sunday and he ran the full 42.2 km marathon in a temperature of 7°C and a constant drizzle.

"You don't get a finisher's medal but you get a space blanket and a Mars bar!" Mr Whitworth said.

They also had a half an hour chat with International Space Station Astronaut Leroy Chiao and they agreed to try and photograph each other in the mid-Atlantic later in the month.

The conversation was made possible thanks to a friend of Mr Whitworth who sent NASA an e-mail after reading his daily log and his musings about isolation and being closer to the International Space Station crew than any other humans.

"It was the most exciting 30 minutes in my life," Mr Whitworth said.

Mr Whitworth and Mr Crozier plan to take part in Fastnet, a 608-mile race from England to Fastnet, on the south west coast of Ireland, and back.

They will then return to Sydney, probably calling at Gibraltar, Cape Town and Melbourne on the way. They hope to be back in Sydney in time to compete again in the Sydney-Hobart race in December.

Mr Withworth's mother, Ethel, who lives in Birguma and is following his trip with eagerness, said she was very happy for her son who was fulfilling his dream but could not but express concern about his welfare.

"A mother will always be a mother and worry. I know he will be fine because he is a very able seaman. But you know how mothers are," she said.

"I look forward to seeing him in summer. If he makes it on time, I hope he catches a plane and comes to see me when he is in England," she said.

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