The Whitbread story begins in August 1720 with the birth of Samuel Whitbread.  He was apprenticed as a brewer in 1736 and  founded his first brewery six years later.  In 1750 Samuel Whitbread moved his brewing operations to premises in Chiswell Street on the eastern rim of Georgian London, establishing the first purpose-built mass-production brewery in Britain. Samuel's family name quickly became synonymous with the brewing industry he came to lead. The company he founded, and the beer it produced in ever-increasing quantities, entered the national consciousness, laying the foundations for one of Britain's most enduring business success stories.


The end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st marked a watershed in the company's history, as Whitbread sold its breweries and then exited its pubs and bars business. After several decades of diversification, during which the beer and pubs giant branched out into new markets (including brief yet lucrative flirtations with wines, spirits and night clubs), Whitbread re-focused its business on the growth areas of hotels, restaurants and health and fitness clubs. The reinvention of Whitbread as the UK's leading leisure business naturally coincided with the end of the brewing and pub-owning tradition which Samuel Whitbread had begun over 250 years earlier. 





When deep-ocean sailors gather to down a few pints, the conversation inevitably turns to tales of passages made, races won, and colleagues lost. It was at just such a gathering in 1971 that the discussion turned to thoughts of staging the ultimate race around the world -- a trip of nearly 27,000 miles. It would be a race that pushed the endurance of the crews and boats to the outer limits as they navigated sweltering Doldrums, freezing oceans filled with icebergs, and gales that blew unabated for weeks on end -- a race that would be considered the Mt. Everest of ocean racing.

Such a race, if it could be arranged, would have no equal in sports. No other competition would ask so much of both man and equipment. No other event would put so many competitors at such risk, for so long, so far from help.

But who would sponsor it? Besides its inherent dangers, such a race would require a worldwide support system. Ports of call would have to be established, rules, scoring systems, and boat specifications would have to be determined. Sponsors would have to be convinced to finance what would be an enormously expensive event.

Many in the sailing establishment believed that even to try such a race was folly. At that time, fewer than ten private yachts had rounded Cape Horn -- in one piece. Moreover such a race already had been tried, and had ended badly. In 1967, "The Sunday Times" of London had put up money to sponsor what it called The Golden Globe Race. Eight boats entered, but only one finished. The others either gave up after near catastrophic equipment failures, capsized, or sank. One crewman became so despondent, he committed suicide. These were not the sorts of events race sponsors were eager to have associated with their names. However, these brave racers had blazed a trail for 'round the world sailors, providing an inspiration to others who heard the call of a challenge.

In order to give the new race the credibility needed to attract financing, a significant, high-profile backer had to be found. Whomever it was, this backer had to have a name and reputation so well-respected that it alone would reassure the most nervous of the doubters. This proved a hard sell. Sponsors of other ocean races expressed little enthusiasm for the around-the-world marathon envisioned by the organisers. The objections especially revolved around the well-documented dangers involved in sending such small boats into seas that have swallowed galleons.

There, the plans might have died, had it not been for the Royal Navy, which had open-ocean sailing plans of its own. What private sector sponsors had viewed as risks, the Royal Navy saw as assets. Seeing open-ocean racing as a way to teach teamwork and build pride within its ranks, the Royal Navy recently had taken delivery of several Nicholson 55s. A global race seemed a good way for the Royal Navy to become involved with the ocean-racing community. In April 1972, while organisers continued to search for private sponsors, the Royal Naval Sailing Association announced that, even if no private underwriter was found, it would support the race the following year.

The RNSA's embrace proved to be the deciding factor. In short order, contacts were made between the Royal Naval Sailing Association and the corporate giant Whitbread PLC. Almost as much a part of British history as the Royal Navy, Whitbread's roots in British commerce reached back to 1742. Over the centuries, the company had grown to become one the world's most respected purveyors of food, drink and leisure products -- employing over 70,000 people in 1997. In addition to its sterling reputation, the Whitbread company also had the real sterling -- the financial underpinnings -- to instil faith in sponsors. With worldwide income exceeding 2.7 billion pounds, Whitbread had the financial wherewithal to underwrite such an ambitious race.

The RNSA and Whitbread provided race organisers with the administrative and financial critical mass they needed to push the event from the drawing boards to the oceans. Each brought unique resources to the table. Whitbread lent its enormous prestige and underwriting muscle. The Royal Naval Sailing Association provided the spacious and secure Portsmouth Naval Base as a pre-race staging area and starting line. For the race, the naval facility seemed made to order. It comfortably could house the large and expensive boats during the pre-race period, while also providing military-base-type security. In addition, the RNSA also could provide the worldwide communications network to allow racers to communicate from the farthest oceans to race headquarters in Southampton.

But those were just the tangible benefits Whitbread PLC and the RNSA provided. Each also delivered intangible benefits by wrapping the new race in an aura of tradition. No other navy in the world had a richer seafaring history than the Royal Navy; it had for so long ruled the world's seas, while sustaining Britain's global colonial empire.

Whitbread PLC, on the other hand, represented British mercantile history, reaching back to times when British commerce stretched itself around the globe.

By mid-1973, the first Whitbread Round The World Race was ready to begin. On 8 September, 17 boats, carrying 167 crew members hoisting sails in a blizzard of colour, jockeyed to the starting line in Portsmouth Harbour. With the shot of a simple starting pistol, the writing of the first Whitbread saga began.





Cayard Wins as Skipper for Team EF; Kostecki Sails for a Competitor

  America One Skipper and CEO Paul Cayard has won the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race as skipper of EF Language, a Swedish entry. The crew roster and shore team included several members f the America One team. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)


The Whitbread Race is the one of the most challenging sporting events ever conceived. A fleet of 60-foot sailboats embark on a punishing circumnavigation of the globe at breakneck speed. The first one home claims the laurels of victory.


AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki is sailing several of the race legs aboard Chessie Racing, which is based in Annapolis, Maryland.


The Whitbread Race began at Cowes, England, on September 21, 1997, and finished in Southampton, England, on May 24, 1998. The 32,000-mile ocean marathon consists of nine legs and includes stops in Cape Town, South Africa; Fremantle and Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; São Sebastião, Brazil; Fort Lauderdale and Baltimore/Annapolis in the United States; and La Rochelle, France




Whitbread round the world race

Skipper Paul Cayard talks about the bonding that takes place when sailors share the "ups" and "downs" of long ocean voyages (9/21/98)


Whitbread Round the Wolrd Race and Paul Cayard

 Skipper Paul Cayard discusses the differences between racing in the Whitbread and the America's Cup. (10/31/98)



1997 and 1993 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race


The Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race is now known as the Volvo Ocean Race, and is the world's most prestigious yacht race.  Fremantle hosted the stopover in 1993 and 1997/98 and was widely regarded by the sailors as the most enjoyable and relaxing host port of the race.  Fremantle's superb yachting facilities, its hospitality, the Race organisation and perfect weather conditions assured an unsurpassed stop over. 


In 1997, Quokka Sports initiated internet-based coverage of the Whitbread Round the World Race for the Volvo Trophy. Their pioneering web site brought minute-by-minute images of the race to the world, creating a unique photographic record for sailing enthusiasts.




Whitbread Restaurant brands

Whitbread PLC.

Julie Weldon
Corporate PR Manager
Tel: 020 7806 5443
Fax: 020 7806 5458


David Lloyd Leisure
Mark Webb
PR Manager
Tel: 01582 844257
Fax: 01582 888889

















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