The final leg of the Global Challenge sets sail today from La Rochelle bound for Gunwharf Quays.

All 12 Global Challenge yachts have been sailed round the world by 15 Core Crew, a professional skipper and two leggers, but on the final sprint from La Rochelle to Portsmouth which starts at midday today there will be a 19th man aboard each yacht made up of journalists, sponsor employees and other VIPs.

Joining the yachts for the final leg will be Ingrid Tarrant; TV Presenter, writer and wife of Chris Tarrant, journalists Simon Greaves and Stuart Miles who work for the Financial Times and The Times respectively, and Casson Dale who won a Pindar employee competition.

The position is being utilised by many of the sponsors for their chief executives or directors whilst other sponsors have offered the opportunity as an employee incentive, such as Liz Straker, a BG employee who will be sailing with Andy Forbes aboard BG SPIRIT.

All of the 19th crew will have the glory of sailing into Portsmouth and an exceptional welcome, which is being anticipated, in the Global Challenge’s homeport and final resting place.

Although the yachts are equipped for 18 crew members, the watch system employed by the teams mean that the whole crew never sleeps at the same time, so accommodating the ’19th man’ will not be a problem.

In terms of dealing with life on board, it may be the shortest leg of the race but the trip from La Rochelle to Portsmouth will be fiercely competitive. Every team is keen to push hard and win the homecoming leg as it will give them the subsequent honour of being the first yacht into Gunwharf Quays.

The crews see the 19th man as a member of the team, so they will be incorporated into the respective onboard systems, as a legger would be.

Getting ready for her adventure Ingrid Tarrant commented: “I’m enormously excited and immensely happy to be doing this once in a lifetime opportunity. I might love it though and want to do the whole 10 months which I can’t see my family being too happy about!”

The final leg starts at midday, local time and the first yachts are due to cross the finish line at Southsea Castle from midday on Saturday, 16 July and will then make their way to Gunwharf Quays for a heroes’ welcome.