Chay Blyth

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Sir Charles Blyth
CBE BEM
Born (1940-05-14) 14 May 1940 (age 74)
Occupation Sailor
Known for First person to sail single-handed non-stop westwards around the world

Sir Charles Blyth, CBE, BEM (born 14 May 1940[1]), known as Chay Blyth, is a Scottish yachtsman and rower. He was the first person to sail single-handed non-stop westwards around the world (1971), on a 59-foot boat called British Steel.

Early life[edit]

Blyth was born in Hawick, Roxburghshire. He joined the British Army Parachute Regiment when he was 18 and rose quickly through the ranks to become a Sergeant at the age of 21.

Rowing and sailing career[edit]

In 1966, whilst in the Army, Blyth, together with Captain John Ridgway, rowed across the North Atlantic in a 20 ft open dory called English Rose III. After successfully completing this in 92 days Blyth was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).

In 1968, with no sailing experience, he competed in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, aboard a 30 ft yacht called Dytiscus retiring just past the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1971 Blyth became the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world, aboard the yacht British Steel, taking 292 days, and as a result was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

In 1973, Blyth skippered a crew of paratroopers in the yacht Great Britain II, which took line honours in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, and in 1978 won the Round Britain Race in the yacht Great Britain IV 1981 - Entered the Whitbread race again in the yacht “United Friendly” and was the first British yacht to finish.

1981 – On the yacht “Brittany Ferries GB” won the Two Handed Trans Atlantic Race with Co Skipper Rob James in record time. Came second again in the Round the Island Race (IoW).

1982 – Came second overall and first in class in The Round Britain and Ireland Race on “Brittany Ferries GB”.

1984 – Capsized off Cape Horn aboard the trimaran “Beefeater II” whilst attempting the New York – San Francisco record attempt with Eric Blunn. Rescued by passing fishing boat after 19 hours in the water

He was co-skipper with Richard Branson on Virgin Atlantic Challenger I and Virgin Atlantic Challenger II in 1985 and 1986 respectively, before founding the Challenge Business to organise the 1992/1993 British Steel Challenge in 1989. This event allowed novices to sail around the world in a professionally organised race.

The British Steel Challenge was followed by two successive BT Global Challenge races in 1996/7 and 2000/2001. However, a downturn in the sponsorship market meant that the 2004/2005 Global Challenge race set off without a title sponsor.

In 1997, Blyth was created a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to sailing.

Business career[edit]

Sir Chay started the company Challenge Business, to operate the Global Challenge Round the World yacht races. The Chartered Institute of Marketing awarded The Companion of Honour to Sir Chay in 2000 for his services to the Profession of Marketing.

Sir Chay is chairman of Inspiring Performance. He also heads the Board of Directors at train company First Great Western - Greater Western franchise. He is Non Executive Chairman of the franchise which was formed to run the new and enlarged franchise from 1 April 2006. The franchise combines the previous First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises.

As chairman of Challenge Business, he was the mentor for Dee Caffari on her successful bid to be the first woman to sail around the world against the prevailing winds and currents in 2005/6.

Achievements and accolades[edit]

  • The first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world (1971)
  • A street has been named after him in his birth town of Hawick. It is known as "Chay Blyth Place".
  • Third Place in St Andrews Rectorship Elections 2008 [2]
  • Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from Plymouth University in 1994.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014. "Sir Chay Blyth, round–the–world yachtsman, 73" 
  2. ^ Fife Today news article on Rector elections

External links[edit]