THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE

 

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In Autumn 2008, 12 identical 72ft ocean racing yachts were to sail from the UK, ready not just to survive those conditions, but to race through them. Each yacht will be crewed by 17 ordinary men and women led by a professional skipper. Most wanted to be in the team that won the Princess Royal Trophy but now this seems unlikely due to financial circumstances of the organising company. 

 

It was a tough race because they raced ‘the wrong way’ around the world - against the prevailing winds and currents. Conditions ranging from the calms and energy-sapping heat of the doldrums to the icebergs, storms and monumental seas of the southern oceans.

 

Global Challenge was more than just a yacht race. It brought together the business community, a major charity – Save the Children, the media and tens of thousands of supporters as well as the crews. Over 120 organisations participate in the event through sponsorships and partnerships. Spectators from around the world visit the ports of call and track the event on the race website and through coverage in the world's media. During the race the Global Challenge 2004/05 website had 37.5 million page views.

 

The design principles for the 72ft Global Challenge race fleet were carefully chosen to ensure they are safe, seaworthy and with high performance in a wide variety of conditions. The yachts, built during 1999/2000, proved their worth having successfully completed two circumnavigations of the world (competing in the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 and the Global Challenge 2004/05) plus numerous offshore races since then.

 

They are optimised for heavy upwind sailing but perform well in the wide variety of conditions they will face while racing around the world.

 

The yachts undergo an extensive refurbishment programme in preparation for the Global Challenge 2008/09 during which the yachts return to their "one-design" status with new masts, sails and rigging. Every single piece of equipment is checked, serviced or replaced in preparation for the World's Toughest Yacht Race. In 2004, this refurbishment cost £3.8m.

 

 

White Ocean Racing are seeking sponsorship for the remaining 2007 season for this Open 60 racing yacht and Steve White

 

White Ocean Racing are seeking sponsorship for the remaining 2007 season

for this Open 60 racing yacht and Steve White

 

 

The Global Challenge is a round the world yacht race run by Challenge Business, the company started by Sir Chay Blyth in 1989. Held every four years, it takes a fleet of one-design (or matching) steel yachts, crewed by ordinary men and women who have paid to take part, round Cape Horn and through the Southern Ocean where winds can reach 70 knots. The fee for the next race in 2008 was £28,750. It is unique in that it takes the westabout route around the world against prevailing winds and currents - often referred to as the ‘wrong way’ route.

 

The route of the race covers a distance of some 29,000 nautical miles (54,000km). It has changed to accommodate different ports of call, but in 2004/5 started from Portsmouth (UK) and stopped at Buenos Aires (ARG), Wellington (NZ), Sydney (AUS), Cape Town (SA), Boston (USA) and La Rochelle (FRA) before returning again to Portsmouth.

 

The event claims the motto “The World’s Toughest Race” and is the ultimate sailing adventure for amateur sailors.

 

The official charity for the races is Save the Children and the race patron is HRH The Princess Royal.

 

After failing to secure a title sponsor, the company went into administration on 9th October 2006 placing the future of the race in doubt.

 

 

Background

 

The seeds of the race were sown in Sir Chay Blyth’s previous sailing exploits. In 1970/71 he became the first person to sail alone round the world westabout in the yacht British Steel. The practicality of training people who had never sailed before was demonstrated during the 1973/74 Whitbread Race, when Blyth had raced Great Britain II with a crew from the Parachute Regiment. Subsequently he ran charters for paying crew.

 

The design philosophy for the identical yachts used on the Global Challenge races was forged by Sir Chay Blyth’s longtime associate Andrew Roberts. It was his idea to start from the largest top-action production winch available, which would in turn dictate sail area, displacement and size. He also oversaw the build of the two fleets of steel cutters used in the four races to date to designs by David Thomas and Thanos Condylis (Challenge 67) and Rob Humphreys (Challenge 72).

 

 

British Steel Challenge 1992/3

 

The first race started from Southampton in September 1992 with 10 identical 67ft boats sailed by a skipper and 13 crew. There were a number of serious rigging screw failures in the Southern Ocean and British Steel II was dismasted in mid-Southern Ocean, but managed to motorsail safely to Hobart under jury rig. She was re-rigged in time to rejoin the race for the next leg to Cape Town.

 

The winner of the first race was John Chittenden and crew in Nuclear Electric . Chittenden went on to win the 2001 Yachtsman of the Year Award.

 

 

Overall place

Yacht name

Skipper

Combined
elapsed time

1

Nuclear Electric

John Chittenden

151d 11h 49m 11s

2

Group 4

Mike Golding

151d 13h 59m 36s

3

Hofbräu Lager

Pete Goss

152d 15h 45m 56s

4

Coopers & Lybrand

Vivien Cherry

154d 17h 59m 56s

5

Pride of Teeside

Ian MacGillivray

155d 16h 06m 48s

6

Interspray

Paul Jeffes

156d 14h 09m 10s

7

Heath Insured

Adrian Donovan

157d 10h 29m 18s

8

Rhône-Poulenc

Alec Honey, Peter Phillips

159d 17h 26m 13s

9

Commercial Union

Will Sutherland, Richard Merriweather

159d 17h 26m 13s

10

British Steel II

Richard Tudor

163d 00h 25m 07s

 

 

 

BT Global Challenge 1996/7

 

An expanded fleet of 14 Challenge 67 yachts set out from Southampton in driving rain and gales. Again rigging problems struck in the Southern Ocean and Concert was dismasted. Skipper Chris Tibbs and crew made a jury rig and motorsailed to Wellington, New Zealand. Concert was re-rigged in time to start leg 3 from Wellington to Sydney and was 2nd on the Sydney to Cape Town leg. Yacht Pause to Remember, skippered by Tom O'Connor, suffered a snapped boom half way between Sydney and Cape Town. There seemed no choice but to fly their trysail until crewmembers Graham Phelp and Matthew Reeves took on the challenge of trying to repair it by using a cut out section as a splint. Two days later a shortened boom emerged from below decks and was successfully attached to the mast. Three weeks later and having suffered several storms with wind speeds in excess of 50 knots, Pause to Remember sailed into Cape Town, with boom still intact.

 

This race featured an extra leg to Boston and a crew of disabled men and women took part on “Time & Tide”, the first to sail round the world.

 

Mike Golding dominated, winning five out of six legs in Group 4 with Andy Hindley winning the remaining leg in Save the Children . Three skippers had graduated from being crew volunteers four years earlier: Andy Hindley; Mark Lodge; and Simon Walker.

 

 

Overall place

Yacht name

Skipper

Combined
elapsed time

1

Group 4

Mike Golding

161d 05h 25m 18s

2

Toshiba

Simon Walker

163d 11h 14m 34s

3

Save the Children

Andy Hindley

165d 20h 50m 46s

4

Motorola

Mark Lodge

165d 22h 40m 54s

5

Commercial Union

Richard Merriweather

167d 08h 01m 32s

6

Global Teamwork

Merfyn Owen

169d 20h 27m 56s

7

Nuclear Electric

Richard Tudor

171d 01h 29m 10s

8

Ocean Rover

Paul Bennett

171d 11h 46m 34s

9

3Com

David Tomkinson

171d 11h 57m 30s

10

Pause to Remember

Tom O’Connor

172d 19h 13m 28s

11

Courtaulds International

Boris Webber

173d 19h 26m 12s

12

Heath Insured

Adrian Donovan

174d 21h 36m 29s

13

Concert

Chris Tibbs

174d 21h 36m 29s

14

Time & Tide

James Hatfield

176d 18h 09m 55s

 

 

 

BT Global Challenge 2000/1

 

On 10 September, a new fleet of 72ft steel cutters made their debut in this race. The winner, Conrad Humphreys and crew on LG Flatron , won four of the six legs.

 

Quadstone collided heavily in a port and starboard incident with Save the Children in Wellington, NZ, and Quadstone retired from this leg. Skipper Alex Philips later resigned. Both boats had to be extensively repaired in New Zealand.

 

For the first time the race was scored on points, with equal points for each leg, though combined elapsed times are shown here for comparison.

 

 

Overall place

Yacht name

Skipper

Points

Combined
elapsed time

1

LG Flatron

Conrad Humphreys

95

171d 13h 33m 49s

2

Compaq

Will Oxley

86

173d 14h 59m 43s

3

BP

Mark Denton

78

175d 09h 54m 33s

4

Logica

Jeremy Troughton

71

175d 20h 46m 04s

5

TeamSpirit

Andy Dare, John Read

68

176d 22h 34m 43s

6=

Spirit of Hong Kong

Stephen Wilkins

62

178d 21h 34m 43s

6=

Quadstone

Alex Phillips, Richard Chenery

64*

179d 11h 58m 14s

8

Norwich Union

Neil Murray

60

180d 07h 58m 14s

9

Isle of Man

Lin Parker

56

180d 21h 41m 18s

9

Save the Children

Nick Fenton

56*

176d

10

Olympic

Manley Hopkinson

37*

183d

 

* These teams did not finish all legs, a requirement for a position in the overall standings, but their positions are shown without displacing any other team

 

 

 

Global Challenge 2004/5

 

The same fleet of 72ft yachts sailed again in the 2004 race, and the winner was the Australian skipper Andy Forbes and his crew on BG SPIRIT , who won three of the seven legs. Once again, although the overall safety record of the race was very good, medical emergencies did unfold, most notably onboard yachts 'Imagine It. Done.', 'Stelmar', and 'Save The Children'. In the case of 'Imagine It. Done.', only an extraordinary combined effort of several yachts within the fleet, the doctor onboard (Dr Roche), and the efforts of the Westpac Rescue team saved the life of John Masters.

 

 

Overall place

Yacht name

Skipper

Points

Combined
elapsed time

1

BG Spirit

Andy Forbes

90

166d 00h 50m 36s

2

Barclays Adventurer

Stuart Jackson

76

168d 09h 39m 09s

3

BP Explorer

David Melville

74

167d 13h 16m 25s

4

Spirit of Sark

Duggie Gillespie

73

166d 19h 15m 25s

5

SAIC La Jolla

Eero Lehtinen

71

168d 20h 09m 51s

6

Team Stelmar

Clive Cosby

66

184d 15h 04m 11s

7=

Me To You

James Allen

63

170d 16h 07m 02s

7=

VAIO

Amedeo Sorrentino

63

170d 11h 31m 10s

9

Samsung

Matt Riddell

58

170d 06h 13m 10s

10

Imagine it. Done

Dee Caffari

56*

168d 23h 31m 26s

11

Pindar

Loz Marriott

54

174d 01h 11m 59s

12

Save the Children

Paul Kelly

41

176d 03h 37m 23s

 

* Retired from leg 2 from Buenos Aires to Wellington (NZ) after a medical emergency on board.

 

 

 

Specifications of the Challenge 72 one-design

 

The current 12-strong race fleet of Challenge 72-footers was developed from the Challenge 67s and was specifically designed to be strong, safe and seaworthy in even the worst conditions and to be self-sufficient for long periods at sea, with enough fuel and water to take their crews safely to a distant port. The yachts were also designed to be relatively easy to sail and handled by crews who are not professional.

 

Designed by Rob Humphreys, the identical 72-foot steel ocean racing yachts were built by Devonport Yachts in the UK by a new method using a unique flat-pack yacht assembly kit of precision cut laser steel panels.

 

Ten of the twelve yachts were built by Devonport, UK, the other two by Kim's Yacht Company in China.

  • Length overall: 72ft (22m)

  • Length of waterline: 61ft (19m)

  • Air draught: 95ft (29m)

  • Draught full load: 10ft (3.05m)

  • Displacement (half load): 40 tonnes

  • Ballast: 12.5 tonnes

  • Sail area (windward): 2,825ft m² (262.5m²)

  • Sail area (downwind): 4,020ft m² (373m²)

  • Water capacity: 390gal (1,775lt)

  • Fuel capacity: 475gal (2,150lt)

  • Hull: 50A mild steel

  • Deck: Stainless steel

 

 

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