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Scuttlebutt News Center:

Global Challenge and the Clipper Race

GC 04 fleet ( Challenge Business)

(June 29, 2005) Once an obscure segment of the sport, round the world racing has now become front-page news. With the advent of sponsored yachts, the participation of well-known sailors, and Internet race reporting keeping us onboard, these adventuresome events are now enjoying immense credibility and respect.

These races have helped to foster the professional sailing industry, which has in effect, made it harder to get a berth on a boat. A serious commitment to the sailing profession is required to become recognized as a crew candidate. With a limited field of teams successfully gathering the resources needed to organize a competitive entry, the demand for available crewing jobs far outnumbers the supply.

So what happens to folks that have a dream of racing around the world, but do not have the desire to commit to the sport full-time? Two events have come to their rescue: the Global Challenge and the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. These two events have provided the public with an open opportunity to compete on the grand stage and circle the globe. And all it costs is money.

GC 04 leaving Boston ( onEdition)

Both events are British-based and both provide berths for a price for amateur crews to sail around the world. Each event owns a fleet of identical yachts, and provides qualified skippers to lead each team. Crew can either sign up for the whole race, some of it, or just one leg. However, that is where the similarities end.

Sir Chay Blyth initiated the concept with the first race of this kind in 1992, which has also been run in 1996, 2000, and 2004. Now known as the Global Challenge, it is dubbed "the toughest yacht race ever. The course takes the fleet around the world the wrong way against the wind and currents. There are seven legs to the race, with four of the legs over 6,000 miles each (click for course). The twelve Challenge 72s used in the 2000 and 2004 races are heavy and tough enough to pound their way around the globe.

If the Global Challenge race is a taller mountain than you care to climb, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race might be more to your liking. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Chairman of Clipper Ventures, has organized the Clipper race every two years since 1996, and provides a more diverse route with a greater variety of weather patterns and six more port stops than the GC 04 (click for course). The Clipper 2005 will be using a new fleet of ten 68-foot yachts, eight feet longer than the original Clipper fleet, but weighing 2 tons less. The new fleet is expected to be 25% faster than their predecessors, and notably faster than the much sturdier Global Challenge fleet.

Preparing for Clipper 05 (Marinepics)

The sponsor philosophies between the two races also differ quite markedly. Global Challenge attracts corporate sponsors for each boat, with senior executives often participating on race legs. Each Clipper race boats has the support of an individual city from around the globe, with the race routed to many of these sponsor cities. Clipper teams generally also have crew originating from their sponsored countries, creating more of a nations versus nations feel

The Global Challenge 04/05 is presently on its next to last leg from Boston to La Rochelle in France, having started back in October, and expects to conclude the final leg to Portsmouth (UK) in July. The Clipper Race 05/06 will begin this September from Liverpool (UK) for the ten-month tour.

  • Global Challenge 2004-2005 website
  • Clipper Race 2005-2006 website
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