Potential Challenge skippers head for Calshot

Weekend of intensive trials ahead for 40 prospective skippers

Friday May 9th 2003, Author: Rachel Anning, Location: United Kingdom
This weekend 40 top skippers from around the world will be put through their paces in the second major skipper selection stage for Challenge Business’ Global Challenge, which starts in September 2004.

Calshot Activity Centre, in Southampton, UK, will be the setting for the weekend’s activities but, surprisingly, none of the assessment takes place on the water. Instead candidates will be tested on their personal, management and leadership skills using a mix of mental and physical activities throughout the intensive 2 days.

“This might all sound a bit strange,” explains Simon Walker Challenge Business’ managing director, “but having the right credentials to skipper a yacht in the Global Challenge is much more than being able to safely race a yacht around the world

“It’s also about personal, management and leadership skills and managing the conflicting demands and expectations of the crews, sponsors, Challenge Business and their own individual objectives.”

It must rate as one of the most difficult jobs in the world, yet almost 350 people wanted to take up the Challenge. With the group already down to 40 men and women, they are competing for just twelve coveted places plus two reserves.

This final selected group of skippers will then race around the world, sailing against prevailing winds and currents, with 17 crew, made up of men and women from all walks of life. But the skippers will have no say in the selection of their crew – that is all organised by Challenge Business

Following a successful international recruitment drive, there are a total of eleven nationalities with an age range of 26 to 50 years within the group. Skippering a yacht in the Global Challenge has in the past been a stepping stone to future success as demonstrated by previous skippers Mike Golding and Pete Goss who are now two of the best known sailors in yachting today.

The recruitment process has been refined over the past decade that Challenge Business has been running the Global Challenge. “The demands of the skipper have increased over the years”, explained Simon Walker.

With the Global Challenge 2004/5 promising to be even bigger and better, Challenge Business has joined forces, for the skipper selection process, with Inspiring Performance, the Official Leadership and Team Development Consultancy of the Global Challenge 2004/5

Inspiring Performance used the last race as a unique case study to identify the key attributes and skills that make effective leaders and demonstrate how emotional intelligence (EQ) can be developed to impact on performance.

Explained Peter Mackie, Managing Director of Inspiring Performance “We have designed the weekend to provide each individual with opportunities to demonstrate the capabilities and skills required to perform across a wide variety of situations”

“It’s a huge, lengthy recruitment process,” continues Simon, “for a role that lasts about 18 months. However it is hugely prestigious to be selected and the year-long selection process means that our 12 skippers and two reserves will be amongst the best in the world.”

After this weekend around 30 skippers will be chosen to go through to the next stage - sailing trials during the summer, the format a closely guarded secret, which will be their first real test on the water. Following this, a further 20 will be chosen to complete a week long residential course encompassing further training and selection, where assessors will hone in on individual skills and competition will be even more fierce.

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