Race organizers, Challenge Business, have enabled more than 1,000 sailors to race around the world or get a taste of the action as a legger - a colossal number, given the fact that they race the wrong way, against prevailing winds and currents.
The race, once again, is attracting the same broad spectrum of individuals that typify this unique race. Housewives, teachers, company directors, farmers - people from all walks of life and nationality brought together with the sole dream of racing around the world.
One of these new recruits who signed up in February, on the very first day he possibly could, is Jeremy SALVESEN, company director of Groovy Chocolates, who will be using the race to raise money for the official race charity, Save the Children. As a complete rookie to sailing he explained after his training, 'Fantastic! Harder work than I thought it was going to be and I thought it was going to be hard. Physically demanding and technical but fantastic.'
For some this is start of years of planning. Ben SCOTT, a 31 year old company director, said, 'This is something I've always wanted to do. I saw the boats come back in the early 90s and thought I want be part of that!'
Asked about how he would raise the funds to take part in the race he continued: 'There may be hurdles to get there but when you want something so much you find a way.'
Finding that way takes many different forms as Elaine KIRTON, a 35 year old physiotherapist, explains, 'I'm selling my house to go. It's a life changing experience and I'm putting everything into it.'
As far ranging as people's methods of raising the funds to take part are the new crews' individual reasons for signing up, 'Be part of the bigger picture'; 'looking for adventure and want to step out of my comfort zone'; 'enjoying spending a year not in front of a laptop'; 'the physical aspect of 'getting out,' were all comments iterated by the crews as they start to take on the challenge and mould themselves and their mentalities into round the world yacht racers.
Some of the crew taking part have already had some sort of connection to previous races, including Denise OAKLEY a Deployment Manager for BP - a yacht sponsor from the previous two races. OAKLEY twice applied to take part in the race as a legger through an internal employee 'legger' competition. Although she was in the running for both races - getting close to the final selection from over 300 applicants - she was pipped to the post in both instances.
Determined not to let the opportunity slip through her hands once more OAKLEY is not only taking part in a leg but the entire race. As a single mother she previously would not have been able to do the whole race but as her son will be in his first year of university she is finally grasping the opportunity.
'I'm not leaving anything to chance this time,' she commented.
One of the major changes for the Global Challenge 2008/2009 will be the age limit for crew. Previously the upper limit was 60 but this has now been raised to 65 to take into account the changing demographics of today's society.
One of the new recruits is Ingrid ROCK, who is already studying for a PhD and will be 62 when the Global Challenge 2008/2009 starts. ROCK had never even stepped onto a yacht before she met race organizers, Challenge Business. She says she went to the Schroeder's London Boat Show, fell in love with one of the yachts and that was it!
ROCK explains, 'My kids are grown up; there's nothing to hold me back!'
The first bout of training helps make the event much more tangible for the new crews and brings the event to life for them. SCOTT explained, 'It's been really nice to meet other people who share your view and enthusiasm. It's difficult for those who don't sail to understand what you are doing and the magnitude of what you are undertaking.'
Una HENNIGAN, a 35 year old IT Consultant backed this comment up saying, 'I'm a lot more excited now. We had some pretty bad weather on the first day and got a taste of what it's like. Everyone is 100% now about the race. There are no doubts now. I want to go tomorrow, not wait three years!'