After a yearlong selection process from 400 applicants, the 12 skippers for next year's Global Challenge have been selected

From a total of 400 applicants, the final 12 skippers for next year’s Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race were revealed at a reception held at St Katharine Dock, London earlier today. These skippers – 11 men and one woman, from across the globe – will race Challenge Business fleet of 72ft steel yachts each with a crew of 17 volunteers in the Global Challenge 2004/5.

The race starts from Portsmouth on 3 October 2004 and heads for the first port of call, Buenos Aires. From here the fleet sets off for the most challenging leg of the race – the 30-day sprint round Cape Horn to Wellington, New Zealand. It’s then on to Sydney, Cape Town, Boston and before returning to Portsmouth.

Global Challenge 2004/5 skippers

James Allen, UK (Midlands), 28. James originally from the Midlands is currently working for Challenge Business and has an extensive sailing background, which includes working as an RYA instructor for the British Offshore Sailing School. James came second in the inaugural Round Britain Challenge 2003, although led the fleet for most of the race.

Denise Caffari, UK (Hertfordshire), 30. ‘Dee’ is the only female chosen to be a skipper in the Global Challenge. She started her career as a teacher but took a career change five years ago. Her yacht-racing life started with Mike Golding Yacht Racing, skippering Group 4 – originally owned by Challenge Business. Dee currently skippers and manages Formula 1’s Farr 65s.

Clive Cosby, UK (Devon), 28. Clive started out as an instructor in dinghy sailing whilst racing to National and European level. He spent six months in San Francisco racing on J/105s and J/120s Clive has worked for Challenge Business for four years and came fourth in the Round Britain Challenge 2003 and third in the Challenge fleet entered in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2003. Clive is married with one daughter.

Andy Forbes, Australia (Sydney), 36. Andy started sailing dinghies when he was just eight and is now qualified to skipper and instruct both sail and power. Andy also worked in Bali’s hospitality trade, managing large guesthouses and as a logistics manager in the UK. Andy is married with two children.

Duggie Gillespie, UK (Scotland), 36. Duggie is a qualified Chartered Surveyor, and took part in the very first Global Challenge, The British Steel Challenge, as a Crew Volunteer. Duggie has skippered most oceans of the world and has an impressive track record on the race circuit. Duggie won the Challenge Transat 2002 (overall) and the Round Britain Challenge 2003.

Stuart Jackson, UK (Scotland), 27. Stuart is the youngest skipper and has been working for Challenge Business for two years. Stuart gained valuable race experience in the Round Britain Challenge 2003 and has just returned from skippering a support yacht in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race. Stuart skippered a yacht back from the ARC single-handed via the Azores and Bermuda before he started working for Challenge Business.

Paul Kelly, UK (Winchester), 27. Paul started his sailing career in Australia, where he spent much of his youth. In the past he has worked for Challenge Business, undertaking a tour of the Baltic, Mediterranean and training Crew Volunteers. Paul also spent time racing in the Mediterranean on the Prada Classic Circuit and running a race yacht in the Caribbean, going on to join Mike Golding Yacht Racing as part of his European race circuit crew.

Eero Lehtinen, Finnish (Helsinki), 39. Eero has had a thriving success in the International Six Metre Class skippering a Finnish yacht to take the European and World Championships in 2002 and 2003 and took part in the Whitbread 89/90 race as crew. Eero also has a strong background in marketing, having worked for a number of major European companies. Eero is married with three children.

Laurence Marriott, UK (Isle of Wight), 29. ‘Loz’ has worked for Challenge Business for two years, gaining valuable race experience with the Challenge Transat 2002 and Round Britain Challenge 2003. Previous to this Loz worked for Sunsail for eight years as skipper and sailing manager. Loz is married.

David Melville, UK (St Albans), 40. David joined the Merchant Navy at 16 as an apprentice Navigation Officer, has a Marine Geography degree and a Postgrad in International Shipping, Trade and Finance, ran his own company – Carmel Yachts and became president of a company specialising in financial risk analysis. David has been employed by Challenge Business for four years, winning the first leg of the inaugural Challenge Transat 2002, coming second overall. David is married with a baby on the way.

Matt Riddell, Australian (Sydney), 29. Matt has a background in the media as a presenter and producer in Sydney before he moved into sailing. Matt worked for Sunsail for a number of years in Greece and the Caribbean, pioneering the “milecatcher” offshore delivery courses and has more recently been skippering a 53ft private yacht.

Amedeo Sorrentino, Italian (Milan), 49. Amedeo is the oldest skipper and started in the sporting arena as a professional football player when he was 16. Amedeo studied as a medic and also had a thriving career as a concert promoter in Rome. Amedeo did one of the legs in the first Whitbread 1976 and was even taught by Andrea Vallicelli’s Father. Amedeo is married.

Interestingly this year’s selection of skippers has been carefully chosen to ensure a good mix of racing talent as well as an ability to run and manage a novice team. Sir Chay Blyth, CBE, BEM talking about this year’s selection process said: We’ve never really, before now, put a great deal of emphasis on the skippers’ skills, only RYA qualifications, but after the first race we discovered they needed more skills. This time for the 2004 race, we’ve got some very well qualified personalities who also posses management and leadership skills.”

Most of the skippers have a strong racing background with many having already raced legs of the VOR or previous challenges. Chatting to James Allen, the 28-year-old from the Midlands who skippered Spirit of Southampton in this year’s Round Britain and Ireland Challenge, about what lies ahead it seems there is not much that concerns him at this early stage. Allen commented: “I have a lot of confidence in my own ability. I think I know what I’m getting myself in to but I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of surprises. Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done both in developing myself, getting myself to the right standard and passing that on to my team and developing them. Of course we’d like to go out there and win the race but there is so much more to this race than winning. I would hate to win the race with all the crew having hated the experience.”

Eero Lehtinen from Finland is one of the four international sailors skippering the race. He too has had plenty of ocean racing experience having sailed among other events the Whitbread 89/90 race as a crew member. “This time he said [laughing] I’ve got to remember to turn right at Cape Horn.”