Global Challenge

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The Global Challenge (not to be confused with Global Challenge Award) was a round the world yacht race run by Challenge Business, the company started by Sir Chay Blyth in 1989. It was held every four years, and took a fleet of one-design 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 kn (130 km/h). The fee for the last race proposed (in 2008) was £28,750. It was unique in that the race took the westabout route around the world against prevailing winds and currents – often referred to as the ‘wrong way’ route.

The route of the race covered a distance of some 29,000 nmi (54,000 km). It 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 claimed the motto “The World’s Toughest Yacht Race” and was the ultimate sailing challenge for amateur sailors. The official charity for the races was Save the Children and the race patron was The Princess Royal.

After failing to secure a title sponsor, the company went into administration on 9 October 2006 placing the future of the race in doubt.[1] The fleet was then put up for sale.[2]


The seeds of the race were sown in 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 Around the World 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 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[edit]

The first race started from Southampton in September 1992 with 10 identical 67 ft (20 m) 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 , after the initial success of winning the first leg of the race, 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 CB 27 John Chittenden 151d 11h 49m 11s
2 Group 4 CB 22 Mike Golding 151d 13h 59m 36s
3 Hofbräu Lager CB 26 Pete Goss 152d 15h 45m 56s
4 Coopers & Lybrand CB 21 Vivien Cherry 154d 17h 59m 56s
5 Pride of Teesside 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[edit]

Two of the yachts in St Katharine Docks, London before the start of the race.
Toshiba in St Katharine Docks

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 halfway 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 kn (93 km/h), 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, all of whom appeared in the top five placings. Simon Walker went on to become Managing Director of Challenge Business, helping to organise the 2000/1 and 2004/5 Global Challenges.[3]

Overall place Yacht name Skipper Combined
elapsed time
1 Group 4 - CB 22 Mike Golding 161d 05h 25m 18s
2 Toshiba - CB 26 Simon Walker 163d 11h 14m 34s
3 Save the Children - CB 29 Andy Hindley 165d 20h 50m 46s
4 Motorola - CB 31 Mark Lodge 165d 22h 40m 54s
5 Commercial Union - CB 34 Richard Merriweather 167d 08h 01m 32s
6 Global Teamwork - CB 21 Merfyn Owen 169d 20h 27m 56s
7 Nuclear Electric CB 27 Richard Tudor 171d 01h 29m 10s
8 Ocean Rover - CB 30 Paul Bennett 171d 11h 46m 34s
9 3Com - CB 24 David Tomkinson 171d 11h 57m 30s
10 Pause to Remember - CB 23 Tom O’Connor 172d 19h 13m 28s
11 Courtaulds International - CB 35 Boris Webber 173d 19h 26m 12s
12 Heath Insured - CB 33 Adrian Donovan 174d 21h 36m 29s
13 Concert - CB 28 Chris Tibbs 174d 21h 36m 29s
14 Time & Tide - CB 32 James Hatfield 176d 18h 09m 55s

BT Global Challenge 2000/1[edit]

On 10 September, a new fleet of 72 ft (22 m) steel cutters made their debut in this race. The winner, Conrad Humphreys and crew on LG Flatron, won four of the seven legs.

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 [4] 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
7 Norwich Union Neil Murray 60 180d 07h 58m 14s
8 Isle of Man Lin Parker 58 180d 21h 41m 18s
9 Veritas Will Carnegie 56
10 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

Kate Middleton, who married Prince William to become the Duchess of Cambridge, worked as corporate crew during the buildup of the 2000/1 race.[5]

Global Challenge 2004/5[edit]

The same fleet of 72 ft (22 m) 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.', 'Team Stelmar' (with TWO separate medical evacuations), 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.[6] 'Team Stelmar' suffered both their medical evacuations in the Southern Oceans on the BA – Wellington leg, costing them a 2,500-nautical-mile (4,600 km) detour and 17 more days at sea, making the leg 9,700 nautical miles (18,000 km) instead of 6,100 nmi (11,300 km) and 52 days at sea. They carried on with 3 crew down crossing the Southern Ocean alone, set the 24-hour record for that leg and finished 11th due to the retirement of 'Imagine It. Done.' Team Stelmar later went on to set the overall 24-hour race record during the penultimate leg of the race between Boston and La Rochelle.

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[7] 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.

** Stopped racing during leg 2 from Buenos Aires to Wellington (NZ) to render aid after a medical emergency on board to Imagine It. Done.

Specifications of the Challenge 72 one-design[edit]

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. The yachts have a snakepit, an unusual feature that allows anyone working the halyards to 'hunker down' and shelter in strong wind and rain, and, more importantly, from waves washing over the deck. Designed by Rob Humphreys, the identical 72-foot (22 m) 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.

Challenge 72 Specifications
Hull type Monohull
Builder Ten of the twelve yachts were built by Devonport, UK, the other two by Kim's Yacht Company in China.
Displacement (half load) 40 tonnes
Draught full load 10 ft (3.05m)
Ballast 12.5 tonnes
Designer Rob Humphreys
Length overall 72 ft (22 m)
Length waterline 61 ft (19 m)
Air draught 95 ft (29 m)
Hull 50A mild steel
Deck Stainless steel
Sail area (windward) 2,825 sq ft (262.5 m2)
Sail area (downwind) 4,020 sq ft (373 m2)
Water capacity 390 gal (1,775 lt)
Fuel capacity 475 gal (2,150 lt)

Buyers of the yachts after the demise of Challenge Business[edit]

Challenge 72 fleet[edit]

Challenge 72 fleet
Hull number 2000/01 Race name[8] 2004/05 Race name New name Call sign MMSI Owner / operator Sailing area Notes
CB 36 Prototype Prototype CatZero [9] MYAJ4 232424000 Cat Zero Hull
CB 37 Save the Children Barclays Adventurer Sea Dragon [10] ZCYV6 319011400 Pangaea Exploration USA Adventure sailing and research charters in the Pacific[10]
CB 38 Isle of Man Spirit of Sark Challenger 1 [11] / Oona ZQCM5 235006000 Tall Ships Youth Trust UK
CB 39 BP Explorer BP Explorer Challenger 2 [11] / William.PG ZQCM6 235007000 Tall Ships Youth Trust UK
CB 40 TeamSpirIT Aviva (Imagine it. Done) HMSTC ADVENTURE ZQCM8 235008000 Joint Services, Ministry of Defence UK Undertook a circumnavigation 2015–16: Ex Transglobe.[12]
CB 41 LG Flatron Samsung Alba Explorer 2ISY4 235009000 Ocean Youth Trust Scotland Scotland
CB 42 Spirit of Hong Kong Pindar Challenger 4 [11] / Margherita ZQCN2 235010000 Tall Ships Youth Trust UK
CB 43 VERITAS Stelmar HMSTC Discoverer ZQCN6 235011000 Joint Services, Ministry of Defence UK
CB 44 Compaq SAIC La Jolla La Jolla DEVO 211255010 Private Germany For Sale Apr 08
CB 45 Logica BG Spirit BIG Spirit [13] ZQCN8 235013000 Exeter Fabrication Ltd UK Yacht Written Off[14] and undergoing repairs to MCA Cat 0 under survey by MECAL and offered for sale.[15][16][17][18]
CB 46 Norwich Union Save the Children Challenger 3 [11] / Sarah ZQCN9 235014000 Tall Ships Youth Trust UK
CB 47 Olympic Group Spencers Dock (Vaio) Challenge Wales [19] ZQC02 235015000 Challenge Wales / Her Cymru Wales
CB 48 Quadstone Me to you Ironbarque[20] ZQCO4 235016000 OM Adventures[21] Worldwide
Adventure and Discoverer: two Challenge 72 yachts alongside in Falmouth, UK, after the transatlantic crossing from Halifax, Nova Scotia; August 2016.

Challenge 67 fleet[edit]

Challenge 67 fleet
Hull number Original name New name Call sign MMSI Owner / operator Sailing area Notes
CB 22 Group 4 Ecover of Skagen 233033000 Mallorca Available for charter
CB 32 Time and Tide Elinca 232025887 Sea Benefit Ltd.[22] Netherlands
CB 29 Save the Children Aurora[23] MPWB2 235006450 OceanVillage Southampton U.K.
CB 28 Concert Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong[24] VRZR3 477840100 Outward Bound Hong Kong Hong Kong
4 Albatross Albatros[25] 228030900 Challenge Ocean France
5 Whirlwind Whirlwind 228029600 Challenge Ocean France
CB 26 Hofbrau / Toshiba Hrimfare 235012010 Sweden Sailing4science expeditions
CB 35 Courtaulds International MariFlex Challenge PA3426 244780659 Currently in Dutch hands after a major refit at Berthon Shipyard [26]
CB 33 Heath Insured Nashachata II MWSG-2 234171000 Longyearbyen, Norway[27]
9 Oceans of Hope OWBG 220092000 Sailing Sclerosis Foundation Global currently completing round the world trip [28]
CB 21 Coopers & Lybrand Yam Reed Mifrasim- The Social Boat Israel
CB 20 (prototype) 2041[29] For sale in 2013


  1. ^ "Sir Chay Blyth yachting company in crisis". The Herald. 2006-10-10. Archived from the original on 2013-05-05. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
  2. ^ "Berthon International Yacht Brokers | Part of the Berthon Sales Group". Berthon International.
  3. ^ "" I Can Only Compete Through My Crew."". Fast Company.
  4. ^ "Results". BT Challenge. Archived from the original on 2002-06-17. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
  5. ^ Sean, Smith. Kate Unauthorised. Simon & Schuster UK. pp. 76–78. ISBN 9781847378699.
  6. ^ Dr David Roche, General Practitioner, East Sussex. UK
  7. ^ "BP to Sponsor Global Challenge Yacht Race". Sportcal. Retrieved 2023-04-10.
  8. ^ BT Global Challenge The world's toughest yacht race ISBN 0 9541451 0 0
  9. ^ "Cat Zero". Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2015-08-24.
  10. ^ a b "Sea Dragon". Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  11. ^ a b c d "Press release by Tall Ships Youth Trust". Archived from the original on November 1, 2007.
  12. ^ "Military yachts sail back from 13-month global adventure".
  13. ^ "Big Spirit Adventures". Facebook.
  14. ^ "Plymouth yacht fall leaves sailor homeless". BBC News.
  15. ^ "Challenge 72' CHALLENGE BUSINESS 45 comes back to life". Berthon Yacht Sales website. Berthon. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Devonport Challenge 72, CHALLENGE BUSINESS 45".
  17. ^ "Charting The Repair And Recommission Of Challenge Business 45". ChallengeBusiness45. Archived from the original on 4 May 2019.
  18. ^ Fabrication, Exeter (2018-10-15). "Today we pulled CB45 back in to the shed to be filled faired and painted. This famous yacht will soon be ready to sail the oceans once". @exeterfab. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  19. ^ "Challenge Wales".
  20. ^ "SV Ironbarque – ZQCO4".
  21. ^ "Ironbarque – The experience of a lifetime!". 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  22. ^ "Elinca". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  23. ^ "Aurora".
  24. ^ "Spirit Of Outward Bound Hong Kong". Archived from the original on 2016-03-08.
  25. ^ "Albatros, grand monocoque avec équipage - Location voilier course croisière". Challenge Ocean. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  26. ^ "Challenge 67". Berthon. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  27. ^ "Specifications Jonathan IV". Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  28. ^ "About Oceans of Hope". Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  29. ^ "CHALLENGE BUSINESS 20 – The Greenest of Them All". Berthon Yacht Sales website. Berthon. Retrieved 24 August 2015.

External links[edit]