4-time circumnavigator via Cape Horn • 2005: Jules Verne Trophy. Catamaran Orange II skippered by…
Sir Chay Blyth, our second live inductee, is another sailing pioneer – the first to sail single-handed non-stop westwards around the world against the prevailing winds and currents in 1971 aboard his a 59ft (18m) ketch British Steel.
As a Sergeant serving in the British Green Beret 3rd Parachute regiment, the Scot set a record, rowing across the Atlantic with Captain John Ridgway in 1966 in the 20ft (6m) open dory English Rose III, completing the distance from Cape Cod to Ireland in 92 days.
The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race was another challenge that excited him, and with no previous sailing experience, he set out from Southampton aboard a 30ft (9m) yacht bilge keeled cruising yacht Dytiscus. Remarkably, he managed to round the Cape of Good Hope, before finding out that the design was no match for the Southern Ocean and retired to Port Elizabeth.
Undaunted by the experience, Blyth was spurred on by Robin Knox-Johnston’s ultimate success in the Sunday Times Golden Globe race to sail around the world the other way to become the first person to sail solo non-stop westwards, setting a pioneering record of 292 days in 1972. As a result he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
In 1973, Blyth skippered a crew of paratroopers aboard the 77ft (23.5m) yacht Great Britain II, winning the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race on elapsed time. He returned again in 1981/2, skippering the same yacht, renamed United Friendly, which was the first British yacht to finish.
Later Blyth founded the Challenge Business to organise a series of round the world races for amateur crews in 1992/3, 1996/7 2000/1 and 2004/5 for which he was knighted in 1997.