Two British skippers for the Velux 5 Oceans

Chris Stanmore-Major and Simon Chalk to sail this autumn's solo round the world race

Wednesday August 4th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Not since Sir Robin-Knox Johnston sailed into the record books as the victor of the Golden Globe back in 1969 has a British skipper won a singlehanded round the world race. But that could all be about to change as Sir Robin himself today announced not one but two British sailors who will compete in the Velux 5 Oceans.

Chris Stanmore-Major, 32, and Simon Chalk, 37, will both go head to head with an international fleet of skippers in the 30,000-mile solo race around the world with stops, which starts from La Rochelle in France on 17 October. Stanmore-Major – known as CSM – and Chalk are experienced and talented yachtsmen.

CSM, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, has only just got back from ten months at sea skippering the Qingdao entry in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race but already has his sights firmly set on his next adventure. The Velux 5 Oceans will be CSM's first major singlehanded race and he is keenly aware of the challenge ahead: “It's a big step up for me and a quick turnaround from the Clipper Round the World Race,” he said, “but it's what I have wanted to be involved in for a long time and I am still in race mode. The crazy sleep patterns and relentless work now seem normal. Solo sailing is certainly new territory but that is the challenge. Everything comes down to the individual and if something goes wrong there is nowhere to hide – it’s just me, the boat and the ocean. Sir Robin is still the only Briton to have won a solo round the world yacht race - surely 41 years is long enough for any record to stand!”

Chalk, from Leicester, got his first taste of sailing in 1996, when, aged 24, he took part in the BT Global Challenge. His first ever trip on a yacht saw him sail from Brazil to New Zealand via the Southern Ocean, rounding the Cape Horn in the process. A keen adventurer, Chalk hit the headlines in 2003 when he became the first Briton to row solo across the Indian Ocean, and holds nine Guinness World Records in ocean rowing.

He said: “I am delighted to be taking part in the Velux 5 Oceans. This is a great opportunity to extend my ocean experience, take on a new challenge and compete against some of the world’s best sailors. Safety and reliability will underpin my campaign. Ocean Planet is a proven boat – let’s see what she can do.”

CSM and Chalk have their backgrounds rooted firmly in amateur round the world yacht races like the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the BT Global Challenge. These races have given rise to some of the biggest British names in ocean sailing. Sailors such as Dee Caffari, Mike Golding and Alex Thompson all started out in such races and are now considered among the best solo sailors in the world.

Both will be racing in the Eco 60 class. CSM will race Sir Robin's boat Saga Insurance. The yacht had originally been chartered by 19-year-old Brit Oscar Mead for the race but Mead has now officially withdrawn his entry so that he can concentrate on his studies and aim for the 2014/15 Velux 5 Oceans. Chalk will race Ocean Planet, built by American yachtsman Bruce Schwab and raced in the Velux 5 Oceans in 2002/3 as well as the 2004/5 Vendée Globe.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, chairman of the Velux 5 Oceans, announced the skippers this morning in Cowes. “Chris and Simon are fantastic yachtsmen who have more than proven their sailing capabilities. It is great to have two British skippers in the race and maybe one of them can be the first Briton to win a solo round the world race since I did in 1969,” he said.

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