Skippers and mates for Challenge Transat

Sir Chay's new transat-en-double to kick off in August

Friday May 31st 2002, Author: Rachel Anning, Location: Transoceanic
After months of anticipation, the lucky few have been chosen. Six skippers, and six mates, were told last night at a special ceremony in St. Katherine's Dock, London, that they have been selected to compete in the inaugural Challenge Transat 2002 yacht race.

The sailors, chosen from many hopefuls, will each be assigned to one of six identical 72ft Global Challenge Race yachts and will take responsibility for 16 voluntary crew, made up of people from all walks of life. The skippers and mates now have just three months to formulate their strategies and prepare themselves and their yachts before the event starts on the 25 August 2002.

Sir Chay Blyth, executive chairman of organiser Challenge Business, Simon Walker, managing director and Jeremy Troughton, sailing manager, had the arduous task of selecting the skilled yachtsman.

Ian Buchele, 33 from Southampton has been sailing since he learnt to sail dinghies as a child, developing a passion for water sports that has kept him on the water for most of his life. Bushy has been professionally sailing for the past five years, clocking up about 60,000 nm, from all over the world, from pirate territory in Asia to within 500nm of the North Pole.

1st Mate, Duncan Jubb, will join Bushy. Duncan, 26 originates from Edinburgh in Scotland and has been sailing since he was 14 when he was picked for the Scotland Dinghy Training Squad. Duncan has been working with Challenge Business for over three years and has had a wide and varied number of sailing roles from touring Scandinavia and the Baltic to mainland Europe and the Caribbean.

Challenge Transat's next skipper is 39-year-old David Melville from St. Albans. Dave has been dedicated to sailing his whole life and at 16 joined the Merchant Navy as an apprentice Navigation Officer, before undertaking Marine Geography at university. After a Postgraduate Diploma in International Shipping Finance, Dave joined a marine financial consultancy firm, MRC as a Marine Financial Analyst. He became Director, and President of MRC's subsidiary in the USA, before leaving five years ago to pursue his passion for sailing. Dave has worked for Challenge Business for two and a half years.

Dave's 1st Mate is 29-year-old Steven White whose work path has led him from training as a jockey during university to restoring classic cars to boats, which he became addicted to five years ago. Steve has recently worked for Pete Goss's Team Philips and did the refit for the Vendee Globe yacht, Aqua Quorum. The crew on the Transat can be sure that the father of four from Buxton will be able to keep them all safe should their boat need repairs!

Skipper Mark Taylor, from Dartmouth, an accountant by profession, has been sailing for over 30 years, taught at the age of seven by his Grandfather in a homebuilt Mirror. Mark is one of the most experienced Trans-Atlantic sailors in the fleet and has notched up an impressive portfolio. He competed in the 2000 Europe1 New Man solo yacht race from Plymouth to Rhode Island, a fully crewed transatlantic race in a Whitbread 60, and raced in Class II of the double-handed Transat Jaques Vabre from Le Habre to Brazil in Olympian Challenger. Mark then cruised home from Brazil via the Caribbean, sailing 12,000 miles in three months! Mark's long term sailing ambition is to sail in the 2008 Vendee Globe.

Mark's 1st mate is Peter Scoggins. Pete joined Challenge Business two years ago after 10 years working in leisure management. Pete has recently been skippering one of the 67ft Global Challenge race yachts through a heavy corporate season, with numerous visits to the Fastnet Rock and Heavy Weather Sailing courses.

36-year-old Scottish skipper, Duggie Gillespie's relationship with Challenge Business goes right back to the first round-the-world yacht race, the 1992/3 British Steel Challenge which he participated in as a Crew Volunteer. Duggie has gone on to work as first mate and now skipper for Challenge Adventure Sailing and was selected as the Reserve Skipper for the 1996 BT Global Challenge.

1st mate Jasper Heikens, who originates from the Netherlands, will join Duggie. Although the youngest mate onboard a boat in the Challenge Transat, at 23 Jasper has already had plenty of sailing experience. He has been sailing dinghies all his life, spending many summers as an instructor at sailing camps in the Lake District in the Netherlands. Jasper joined Challenge Business two and a half years ago as a mate and has worked on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as many Challenge Adventure Sailing trips, he worked in Boston as a training mate for eight months.

Skipper John Burfitt, 42 also originally started sailing in dinghies, racing them when he was 16 for the National Youth squad. JB, who lives in Dartmouth has had a career in sailing which has taken him world-wide building up 60,000nm of cruising experience, and over 35,000nm of racing experience JB has skippered extensively with Challenge Adventure Sailing, including the demanding winter Fastnet and Biscay Challenges, regattas to St. Malo, St. Peter Port, Cork, and the Run Around The Island.

JB's 1st Mate is 28-year-old Laurence Marriott. Laurence was born surrounded by water on the Isle of Wight and has continued to be surrounded by it with a sailing career that spans over 11 years. Laurence has recently finished an eight-year stint working for Sunsail. Starting out as a cruising instructor Laurence quickly progressed to sailing manager and jobs that took him to a number of exotic locations including Thailand where he worked as a bare boat skipper.

Last but by no means least is Scottish skipper Alex Johnston. After a short stint in the Parachute Regiment after leaving school, Alfy spent six years working as a diver and on boats in the USA. He obtained a degree in Diving & Marine Sciences and Business Management whilst across the pond, before returning to the UK in the mid-nineties.

Alfy has worked on various Super Yachts, both in the Med and the Caribbean, as well as inshore racing and has worked with Challenge Business for the past three years. In this time Alfy has been heavily involved with Corporate Tours, Challenge Adventure Sailing, and Corporate Regattas, as well as being part of the training team for the 2000/2001 BT Global Challenge. He spent the winter of 2000/01 sailing in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Southern Ocean, getting valuable heavy weather experience.

Alfy will be joined by the only woman in the group, 34 year old Trish Shaw. Trish, who originates from Kent took a break from her career two and a half years ago to pursue her love of sailing. Trish has worked for Challenge Business for over 2 years. As well as Challenge Adventure Sailing trips, an Irish tour last summer, and a corporate season, Trish has done the ARC and a winter Caribbean season for two years on the run.

The skippers and mates will learn who their crews are on 27th July and will then have just three weeks to train as a team before the race starts. These crews will also change when the yachts arrive in Boston for the return race back to the UK. The skippers and mates will then have just 10 days to prepare their return crews before the downwind sprint home.

The last few berths are still up for grabs with a price tag of £4,950. Full training is given to crew, some of whom have never stepped onto a boat before they start their training sails.

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