The worlds toughest yacht race
The BT Global Challenge is a unique race that takes place every four years that sees 12 teams compete for the coveted Princess Royal Trophy on a westabout route around the world, against the spin of the earth. The route covers 32000 miles and is split into 7 legs of varying durations. It starts in Southampton, visits Boston, Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Capet Town, La Rochelle and finishes back in Southampton. Known as the ‘world’s toughest yacht race, it’s the ultimate challenge in amateur sailing.
Each team is made up of 17 diverse amateurs from across the globe who pay for the privilege, and led by 1 professional sailor on identical 72-foot steel ocean racing yachts. Each team is balanced by male to female ration, age spread, weight and experience. However, it is a known fact that 70% of the people who apply have never sailed before. Each yacht is sponsored which not only allows the company naming rights but also 2 places per leg for chosen employees or stakeholders to take part.
The race is owned by Sir Chay Blyth, the first person to sail around the world the ‘wrong’ way in 1970. When he first set off many thought that he would never be seen again, but 292 days later he returned proving them all wrong. And he thought if I can do it anyone can do it and the seeds for the race were sown. However, it wasn’t until some 20 years later that the Challenge Business was formed to allow anyone to take on this feat.
Conditions experienced by competitors are some of the toughest known to man, so it’s a real feat of endurance. But it’s also one of the toughest tests of leadership and teamwork, with each professional skipper not only charged with forming a disparate group of people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities into a high performing team, but also having to constantly make vital strategic and operational decisions to gain advantage in a constantly changing and highly competitive environment.
It is for this reason that the BT Global Challenge is the ultimate case study for Leaders and teams in business to learn from as they are facing a very similar set of dynamics. So much so that Henley School of management chose the race to carry out a ground-breaking study into what makes the difference between those teams who just survived versus those who thrived. And why Mark, being a podium placed skipper in this epic race, is the ideal speaker to share these leadership and teamwork lessons in a highly insightful, inspirational and motivational way.