The end of an era

Now no more, The Challenge Business was responsible for introducing more than one thousand people to offshore racing
Since its inception in 1989 and the first British Steel Challenge over 1992-3, Chay Blyth's company The Challenge Business has taken unprecidented steps to popularise the sport of oceanic racing. The Global Challenge, as it has been most recently known, has taken novice sailors and turned them into hardened seadogs on the gruelling westabout round the world course against the prevailing conditions, on a route Blyth was the first person to complete non-stop singlehanded back in 1972. Sadly as of this week The Challenge Business is no more, the Southampton-based company going into administration, ready to be sold off or asset stripped. To the professional sailing community the Global Challenge has always seemed like a bit of a joke, bringing out the worst kind of snobbery. The fact is that none of the critics have raced around the world against the prevailing winds (nor would they want to - is the normal retort) but after four runnings of the event, somewhere near one thousand average mortals - the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker - now have. And then there are all the other events The Challenge Business have run, round Britain, transatlantic, etc. A majority of the crew who have taken part in these events, not to mention their friends and families, now hold a keen interest in offshore racing from which pro events like the Volvo Ocean Race or the Vendee Globe will certainly benefit. "It has touched so many people," says Andrew Pindar, who had an early introduction to offshore sailing via Blyth. Pindar's Yorkshire-based print and multimedia company followed the classic route first becoming a Business Club member and subsequently backing boats in The Challenge Business' recent races. "I was talking at a local lifeboat meeting recently and there were three people in the audience who had