Features | From Pivot Magazine

The CPA who sailed around the world

Simon DuBois, a 32-year-old CPA from Quebec, spent 11 months on a boat racing around the planet

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Portrait of CPA Simon DuBoisSimonDuBois took part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2017 and 2018 (Photography by Annie-Claude Roberge)

HAVE YOU ALWAYS ENJOYED SAILING?

A passion for sailing runs in my family. When I was a kid in Sherbrooke, Que., my parents bought me my first dinghy to sail around Lake Memphremagog. At 19, I purchased my first 26-foot keelboat.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR INTERNATIONAL RACING ADVENTURE.

In 2017 and 2018, I took part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. We started in Liverpool and squared off in eight legs over the course of 11 months. There were 12 teams and about 700 amateur sailors who rotated in and out each leg. I was one of the 10 per cent of sailors who made the whole trip around the world—a journey of almost 75,000 kilometres. Our team came in second.

ANY DANGEROUS SITUATIONS?

In leg three, one of the other boats sank, and a sailor on another team was swept overboard and died. In leg six, we came up against winds exceeding 200 kilometres per hour. My wife and parents were worried sick.

WHAT ABOUT A MEMORY THAT MAKES YOU SMILE?

We had unforgettable experiences aboard our ship, the Visit Seattle. With the fatigue and stress, some of the crew had strange dreams. One night, a teammate screamed, “Man overboard!” in her sleep. I ran on deck in my boxers before realizing it wasn’t real.

WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE EXPERIENCE?

It felt like I was learning at sea, with people from all over the world, and taking courses in many different fields: finance, human resources, partnerships, marketing, communications, performance and crisis management.

HOW MUCH DID IT COST YOU?

The race was quite an investment: almost $150,000. I approached my bank to arrange financing. Without my CPA designation and the jobs it helped me land, the bank would never have agreed.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A CPA?

My cousin, a CPA, led me to accounting. She convinced me it was the best business training. During the race, I realized the knowledge we acquired, like performance management or decision-making, can be put to use in any environment.

WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE TAUGHT YOU?

I realized a dream doing this. If you believe in something, make the right choices and a few sacrifices—like keeping your old car and apartment, like I did—you can do anything.