Sir Chay has given the Global Challenge crew some timely advice

Training and preparation are finally at an end for the 216 crew taking part in the Global Challenge. Tomorrow is the beginning of the ambition they have planned of and dreamed about for years, yet no matter how they’ve primed themselves for this race, what lies ahead – and how they will react to it – is essentially unknown.

At a crew briefing on Friday, Sir Chay Blyth gave them some final words of guidance, as did Simon Walker who, as a new graduate was himself once a paying crew volunteer, then a skipper, and finally managing director of Challenge Business. “We emphasise the importance of safety,” Sir Chay told us, “and I give them advice. I say there is always wind: it’s a myth that there’s ever flat calm. And there’s always weather. The trick is to keep the boat moving.

“I tell them races are won and lost in light winds, the shortest distance is invariably the fastest, and to trim, trim, trim. And I said: ‘Nurse the boat. There’s a time to look after the boat, because if you damage something all you’ll do is penalise yourself.’ That was advice once given to me by Mike Birch.”

He also gave the crew the benefit of one of his favourite truisms: knowledge dispels fear. “I told them not to worry, they’ve got the knowledge.”

Simon Walker offered them this personal advice for the start: “Whatever the weather and whatever it’s like out there, just take the time to look around you at this incredible experience and say ‘I really am here’, because it only happens once.”