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Challengers at 20

By Tall Ships - October 1st, 2020 | Posted in News No comments

Imagine being numb with cold. Imagine biting 70mph winds that sting your face as you lumber about the deck rollercoasting its way over 50ft waves. Imagine hanging on for life as a wall of freezing water crashes on top of you. Imagine doing this for five weeks at a time.

Sir Chay Blyth  


Our four Challenger yachts started their lives at the turn of the millennium when the prolific sailor, Sir Chay Blyth, decided to build a new fleet of 12 72ft steel cutters for the famous Global Challenge Race.

The seeds for the race were first sewn during Chay’s own sailing exploits when, in 1971, Chay became the first person to sail single-handedly around the world westwards (against the prevailing winds and tides). Chay wanted to make this experience accessible to all so, led by a professional Skipper, each yacht was crewed by ordinary men and women who set out to push themselves to the limit for the adventure of a lifetime.

On 11th September 2000 the yachts – then named Isle of Man (Challenger 1), BP Explorer (Challenger 2), Norwich Union (Challenger 3) and Spirit of Hong Kong (Challenger 4) – started the race in Portsmouth and sailed around the world ‘the wrong way’ stopping in Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Cape Town, Boston and La Rochelle before returning to Portsmouth ten months later. Conditions ranged from the calms of the doldrums to the ice bergs, storms and monumental seas of the Southern Ocean.

Watch the video to get a taste for what it was like!


Watch this space for information about our special virtual event to celebrate 20 years of the Challengers and all they have done exclusively for our supporters.

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