The first non-stop race around Ireland starts this weekend in Dublin 20/4/06

The forthcoming inaugural Ireland Challenge sets sail for a non-stop circumnavigation of Ireland, from Dublin to Dublin, this Saturday 22 April.

The high calibre of skippers and mates for the Ireland Challenge 2006 were announced last week. They will be the only paid professionals in the race and will take a crew of 15 sailors from all kinds of backgrounds and professions. Three quarters of the crew have never sailed before they started training on the Challenge boats.

As Sir Chay Blyth CBE BEM, executive chairman of Challenge Business explained: “The selection process we employ at Challenge Business has always been rigorous as we demand a lot from the skippers. Not only do they need first class sailing skills but, perhaps more importantly, their management skills need to be a cut above the rest.

They will take a group of 15 individuals and in just one week hone them into a racing, and possibly, winning team. That takes a certain calibre of skipper.”

The skippers and their mates are: Marcus Cholerton and Stephen Durkin; Justin Taylor and Hannah Jenner; Jim Allen and Andrew Buchanan; Richard Franklin and Ricky Chalmers; Stewart Richardson and Duncan Jubb. All with British backgrounds except South African mate Ricky Chalmers, between them they have sailed almost 700,000 nautical miles.

Sir Chay believes: “Out on the race course the Ireland Challenge will be a tough but very exciting event. The yachts will probably be within sight of one another the whole way round, which adds to the pressure for these professionals. Timing will be paramount with tidal gates and the weather dictating a possible concertina effect at the end. This is one of the shortest races we’ve ever run and the demands on the skippers and their mates will be full-on the whole way round.”

The crews arrived in Dublin City Moorings on Tuesday to a tremendous welcome and are now preparing for the off on Saturday which promises to be a major event with a parade of sail, confetti, canons and music to see them off in style.

The Teams

Me To You
Skipper – Justin Taylor

Skipper – Jim Allen

Skipper – Stewart Richardson

Spencer Dock
Skipper – Marcus Cholerton

Spirit of Sark
Skipper – Richard Franklin