Thousands of friends, family and spectators watched from onboard hundreds
of small boats, cruisers and yachts that crammed The Solent to see the start
of the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 yesterday,(Sunday September 10).
After years of preparation for the 12 skippers and 300 international crew
volunteers, the world's toughest yacht race started to the sound of the gun
fired at 1205 hrs (BST). With warm sunshine breaking through the mist and
light airs the fleet of yachts dramatically popped their spinnakers within
seconds of each other. Spirit of Hong Kong, skippered by Australian Steve
Wilkins, crossed the line first followed closely by Compaq and Save the
Children. Norwich Union picked up a stronger current and surged past these
very early leaders to take the lead. However, the light winds were
unpredictable and the first miles saw this lead change several times.
Earlier in the day families had gathered at Ocean Village Marina in
Southampton to bid the crews an emotional farewell. However, there
remained an electric atmosphere with crews boarding their yachts in fancy
dress and having dyed their hair in team colours from green to orange. Manley
Hopkinson, skipper of Olympic Group said: &quot;There is such a buzz and
atmosphere here. I know we will all remember this moment for the rest of our
Concern amongst the spectators that the foggy, still morning would delay
the start proved unfounded as the first yachts slipped their moorings and the
sun broke through to burn off the heavy mist.
Skippers had made the decision to leave Ocean Village early in order to
settle the crews after their emotional farewells and practice racing starts to
make an early lead. After all the months of team building and sail training
the first miles west through The Solent were vital to set the standard for the
rest of the 3,200 mile leg to Boston. With light south-westerly airs and
following tide the twelve state-of-the-art yachts, distinctive with their BT
communications domes, made little more than four knots as they crossed the
start line within seconds of the 1205 hrs start gun fired by Sir Peter
Bonfield, chief executive of BT, from on board the official start ferry &quot;The
Early favourite LG FLATRON, skippered by Conrad Humphreys, found
themselves placed in the middle of the pack as the fleet raced down the start
corridor avoiding the many hundreds of craft swarming around them. The first
three places alternated between Norwich Union, skippered by Neil Murray,
Olympic Group and Compaq, skippered by Will Oxley from Australia.
In a celebration of sailing, The Solent saw almost 1000 boats on the
water, from the channel ferry &quot;Bretagne&quot; to hundreds of Laser dinghies,
wishing the crews of the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 &quot;bon voyage&quot;. Crowds of
spectators also lined the wall of the famous Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes,
Isle of Wight to watch as the fleet tacked, passing very close to the
Squadron, before making their way south-west to Hurst Narrows.
It was here, three hours after race start, that the skippers made the
decision to drop anchor as the light airs meant they were unable to make the
tidal gate between the narrows and The Needles to sail out into the Atlantic.
It will be this critical period when the decision is made to up anchor and try
for the narrows or wait that will determine who takes that lead onto the next
leg to Boston.
<LI>Notes to Editors About BT Global Challenge:
The BT Global Challenge, the world's toughest yacht race, starts from
Ocean Village Southampton on September 10, 2000. It is the only
round-the-world yacht race to circumnavigate the globe against prevailing
winds and currents. The race will involve 12 yachts, over 300 international
crew volunteers and will take approximately ten months to complete.
The yacht sponsors are - BP, CGNU, Compaq, Isle of Man, LG FLATRON,
Logica, Olympic Group, Quadstone, Serco, Invest HK, TeamSpirIT and Veritas.
FROM TO MILES DAYS YACHTS DEPART YACHTS ARRIVE
Southampton Boston 3,200 18 10/09/00 28/09/00
Boston Buenos Aires 5,840 35 15/10/00 19/11/00
Buenos Aires Wellington 6,020 31 10/12/00 10/01/01
Wellington Sydney 1,230 7 18/02/01 25/02/01
Sydney Cape Town 6,200 37 11/03/01 17/04/01
Cape Town La Rochelle 5,820 30 13/05/01 12/06/01
La Rochelle Southampton 300 3 20/06/01 23/06/01
Pool News Feed:
Pool news feed and &quot;b-roll&quot; material, including archive stock, is
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Rights free photography of BT Global Challenge is available from
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For Race Information:
By Internet - <A target="_blank" href="http://www.btchallenge.com">http://www.btchallenge.com,</A> BT Telephone recorded race
information - 0870 600 2001 BT Fax Information Retrieval Service - 0870 242
British Telecommunications plc is one of the world's leading providers of
telecommunications services. Its principal activities include local, long
distance and international telecommunications services, mobile communications,
internet services and IT solutions. BT has operations in more than 30
countries worldwide, with ventures in the Republic of Ireland, France,
Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, New
Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Latin America and India. BT and
AT&T have also created Concert, the leading global telecommunications company
serving multi-national business customers, international carriers and Internet
service providers worldwide.
About Challenge Business:
Challenge Business is the race organiser of the BT Global Challenge. As
organisers of the world's toughest events, Challenge Business is a world
leader in creating unique and challenging events that attract everyday people
with extraordinary ambitions.
Events include: the BT Global Challenge (the world's toughest yacht race);
New World Challenge; Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge and the Open 60s
L'Atlantique Challenge. Other activities include Challenge Corporate Events
and Challenge Adventure Sailing.
Sir Chay Blyth, founder and executive chairman, Challenge Business is the
first man to have sailed single-handed around the world against prevailing
winds and currents. He created the BT Global Challenge to allow other skippers
and crew volunteers access to the same experience and opportunity.