The search is on for 12 skippers for the 2004 Global Challenge round the world yacht race

The search is on to find the next elite team of skippers for Challenge Business’ fourth Global Challenge round the world yacht race, which sets sail from Southampton, UK in September 2004.

In a bid to find the best, men and women from around the globe are being invited to apply as skippers for the race, which pits 12 identical 72ft yachts against one another made ever more challenging by its route, east to west, against prevailing winds and currents.

On board each yacht will be one professional – the skipper – and 17 crew made up of men and women from all walks of life and nationalities. Crew, who are known as Crew Volunteers, have already been selected and a healthy reserve list holds names of eager hopefuls keen to join the race.

Popularity is evident as the berths for the race were full before the Global Challenge 2000/01, sponsored by BT, had even set sail.

Simon Walker, managing director, Challenge Business, comments: “This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a skipper. For the very few skippers who do make the grade, the Global Challenge will be the race and adventure of their life.’

“Not only will the skippers need to able to look after themselves and the yacht but also 17 other people, many of whom will never have sailed before they start their training and certainly not in the oceans of the world which the Global Challenge will take them to. The skippers will need to be sailors of the highest calibre, outstanding leaders, communicators, listeners and problem solvers. All of them will have to work to satisfy the goals of every individual on board as well as the team. They will also play a pivotal part in the relationship between Challenge Business and its sponsors, all of which is a tall order for an individual.”

A skipper’s personality and leadership skills play a key part in their selection. However, the skippers’ qualifications will also need to include UK Ocean Yacht Master or equivalent, over 25,000 logged sea miles, offshore/ocean racing experience, strong commercial orientation and fluency in written and spoken English.

During the selection process for the BT Global Challenge 2000/01, 186 skippers from around the world applied for 12 positions. In the end two Australians and 10 British skippers, including two women, made it to the final group.

“The next Global Challenge promises to be the best one to date,” continues Walker; “As our global village gets ever smaller, more and more people from around the world are finding out about this extraordinary race and applying and to reflect this we’re extending our search for skippers with a major international recruitment campaign.”

The selection process is intense and demanding in itself. Interested recruits who apply are invited to attend a special seminar in London, around the time of the London International Boat Show 2003, where they will learn more about the Race and what is involved.

Every stage then gets slightly harder. Out of the hundreds who are expected to apply for this race, 50 will then be invited to a rigorous selection weekend, where they will be put through their paces. “This is where we put all our experiences and learnings into practice,” says Jeremy Troughton, Sailing Manager and former skipper of Logica in the 2000 BT Global Challenge, who will oversee the selection and recruitment. “We believe we’re setting new and unique standards in skipper selection encompassing sailing, leadership and management skills finely tuned from our past three Global Challenge yacht races. Personality assessments, practical tests and leadership exercises are all part and parcel of the weekend.

“We will actually train the potential skippers before we select them because it is only when they’re put under extreme pressure, in unpredictable scenarios and by looking at how they relate to one another can we truly tell if they’ll make the grade. We have to be absolutely sure that a skipper can use his or her skill and ingenuity around the world, such as in the depths of the Southern Ocean, where anything could happen.

“Personalities are as important as sailing prowess. We will train the skippers to recognise Crew Volunteers’ personality types in order that they can motivate and understand them as well as deal with the inevitable conflicts that occur through the confined living space and the hard and fast racing conditions of the Global Challenge.”

Following the selection weekend, Challenge Business will have a clearer idea of who will be going on to the next phase of selection, which will involve a series of trial sails during the Spring and Summer of 2003. During this time the potential skippers will be assessed on the water by Jeremy Troughton who will be looking at their seamanship, sailing and interpersonal skills on the water.

In the autumn the list will be shortened further, down to just 20, who will then undertake a whole week of gruelling training and nail biting selection drills. Only after this final training phase will the 12 race skippers and two reserve skippers for the Global Challenge 2004/05 be chosen.

Application forms can be obtained from Challenge Business. Contact Suzie Creak, 44 (0) 2380 715 300 or suziecreak@challengebusiness-box.comor visit the Web site:>