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British Steel Challenge and Global Challenge at the London Boat Show

by Barry Pickthall on 17 Jan 2013
Skippers on parade in 1991 at St Katherine’s Dock - in their normal work clothes. Pictured (left to right): Vivien Cherry, Richard Tudor (sailmaker), Will Sutherland, Pete Goss, Ian MacGillivray, Alec Honey (who dropped out before the race), Adrian Donovan, Mike Golding (fireman), John Chittenden and yacht surveyor Paul Jeffes. Barry Pickthall/PPL © http://www.pplmedia.com
Over 200 people have signed up to attend a 20th anniversary reunion this Saturday for skippers and crew from Chay Blyth’s 1992-93 ‘wrong way’ round-the-world British Steel Challenge yacht race, plus the four subsequent Global Challenge races.

The event will take place at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show on Saturday 19th January, with Sir Chay Blyth attending. Race veterans coming from as far away as Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, USA and all across Europe.

It was on Saturday 26th September 1992 that ten 67ft steel yachts set off from Southampton for Rio de Janeiro, on the first 5,300-mile leg of the epic 28,000-mile race. The only other stops for the amateur sailors were Hobart, Tasmania, and Cape Town.

The Daily Mail dubbed the event ‘The Mid-life Crisis Challenge’ and some in the yachting establishment poured scorn on the project, saying it was foolhardy and irresponsible to send greenhorns into the Southern Ocean west-about around Cape Horn. Chay called the event ‘the toughest yacht race ever – an extraordinary adventure for ordinary people.’

It cost £14,850 – or about 50p a mile – to sign up for the whole race – and there was a long waiting list. There was a two-year training programme with some crews enduring Force 10 winds in the English Channel in winter.

Most of the sailors were trained by Pete Goss, later appointed one of the skippers. Goss and Mike Golding are two of the skippers who will be absent from the reunion. The former is currently kayaking around Hobart and Golding is racing up the Atlantic on the final stretch of the solo, non-stopVendee Globe round the world race.

The Boat Show reunion includes plans for an auction of Global Challenge memorabilia, in aid of Save the Children, plus screening of videos from the Challenge events, and a buffet dinner. Two ex-Global Challenge yachts, Challenger 3/Sarah, operated by The Tall Ships Youth Trust, and Catzero, managed by the sail training charity, CatZero, are also at the show on the marina berth M163/4.

The organiser is sailing journalist Barry Pickthall who wrote the book 'No Guts - No Glory' on the event. Barry says: ‘We have not managed to track down every crew member, so if you are still in contact with your crew-mates, please tell them, we don't want anyone to miss out!’

Tickets for the reunion are £20, including the buffet dinner, if you already have a boat show ticket, or £30 including the boat show. The Reunion buffet dinner will take place in the Platinum Suite level 3, (follow signs for the BMF/RYA Lounge) starting at 7pm, when the Show closes, and will continue until 11pm.

To book, go to London Boat Show, click on the Show Tickets - Buy Now! and select 19 January and type in the promotional code BTG. If you have a show ticket already use the promotional code BTGE.

The deadline for booking is Friday.
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