At a special press reception held today (12th November 2003) at St Katharine Dock, in London, Challenge Business officially revealed the 12 skippers who have been chosen to skipper in the prestigious Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race 2004/5.
The 11 men and one woman, from across the globe, have been selected from nearly 400 who originally applied - a process, which has taken over a year to complete.
The skippers for the Global Challenge 2004/5 are:
James ALLEN, UK (Midlands), 28. James originally from the Midlands is currently working for Challenge Business and has an extensive sailing background, which includes working as an RYA instructor for the British Offshore Sailing School. James came second in the inaugural Round Britain Challenge 2003, although led the fleet for most of the race.
Denise CAFFARI, UK (Hertfordshire), 30. 'Dee' is the only female chosen to be a skipper in the Global Challenge. She started her career as a teacher but took a career change five years ago. Her yacht-racing life started with Mike Golding Yacht Racing, skippering Group 4 - originally owned by Challenge Business. Dee currently skippers and manages Formula 1's Farr 65s.
Clive COSBY, UK (Devon), 28. Clive started out as an instructor in dinghy sailing whilst racing to National and European level. He spent six months in San Francisco racing on J105s and J120s Clive has worked for Challenge Business for four years and came fourth in the Round Britain Challenge 2003 and third in the Challenge fleet entered in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2003. Clive is married with one daughter.
Andy FORBES, Australia (Sydney), 36. Andy started sailing dinghies when he was just eight and is now qualified to skipper and instruct both sail and power. Andy also worked in Bali's hospitality trade, managing large guesthouses and as a logistics manager in the UK. Andy is married with two children.
Duggie GILLESPIE, UK (Scotland), 36. Duggie is a qualified Chartered Surveyor, and took part in the very first Global Challenge, The British Steel Challenge, as a Crew Volunteer. Duggie has skippered most oceans of the world and has an impressive track record on the race circuit. Duggie won the Challenge Transat 2002 (overall) and the Round Britain Challenge 2003.
Stuart JACKSON, UK (Scotland), 27. Stuart is the youngest skipper and has been working for Challenge Business for two years. Stuart gained valuable race experience in the Round Britain Challenge 2003 and has just returned from skippering a support yacht in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race. Stuart skippered a yacht back from the ARC single-handed via the Azores and Bermuda before he started working for Challenge Business.
Paul KELLY, UK (Winchester), 27. Paul started his sailing career in Australia, where he spent much of his youth. In the past he has worked for Challenge Business, undertaking a tour of the Baltic, Mediterranean and training Crew Volunteers. Paul also spent time racing in the Mediterranean on the Prada Classic Circuit and running a race yacht in the Caribbean, going on to join Mike Golding Yacht Racing as part of his European race circuit crew.
Eero LEHTINEN, Finnish (Helsinki), 39. Eero has had a thriving success in the International Six Metre Class skippering a Finnish yacht to take the European and World Championships in 2002 and 2003 and took part in the Whitbread 89/90 race as crew. Eero also has a strong background in marketing, having worked for a number of major European companies. Eero is married with three children.
Laurence MARRIOTT, UK (Isle of Wight), 29. 'Loz' has worked for Challenge Business for two years, gaining valuable race experience with the Challenge Transat 2002 and Round Britain Challenge 2003. Previous to this Loz worked for Sunsail for eight years as skipper and sailing manager. Loz is married.
David MELVILLE, UK (St Albans), 40. David joined the Merchant Navy at 16 as an apprentice Navigation Officer, has a Marine Geography degree and a Postgrad in International Shipping, Trade and Finance, ran his own company - Carmel Yachts and became president of a company specialising in financial risk analysis. David has been employed by Challenge Business for four years, winning the first leg of the inaugural Challenge Transat 2002, coming second overall. David is married with a baby on the way.
Matt RIDDELL, Australian (Sydney), 29. Matt has a background in the media as a presenter and producer in Sydney before he moved into sailing. Matt worked for Sunsail for a number of years in Greece and the Caribbean, pioneering the "milecatcher" offshore delivery courses and has more recently been skippering a 53ft private yacht.
Amedeo SORRENTINO, Italian (Milan), 49. Amedeo is the oldest skipper and started in the sporting arena as a professional football player when he was 16. Amedeo studied as a medic and also had a thriving career as a concert promoter in Rome. Amedeo did one of the legs in the first Whitbread 1976 and was even taught by Andrea Vallicelli's Father! Amedeo is married.
Selection to be a skipper for the Global Challenge has been a long, tough and demanding process for the skippers. Challenge Business has, at all times, worked with Inspiring Performance the Official Leadership and Team Development Consultancy of the Global Challenge 2004/5.
Skippers were invited to apply for the position of skipper for the race back in 2002, following a global recruitment campaign. 40 were then selected to go through to the next stage - a selection weekend at Calshot Activity Centre, in Southampton, UK.
None of the activities during this intense weekend took place on the water. Instead candidates were tested on their personal, management and leadership skills.
Following this a further 27 were put through intense sea trials over the summer to ascertain their sailing prowess. Finally 19 were invited on a weeklong residential course at Hayling Island Sailing Club, Hampshire, UK, which provided an intense training ground for the final few as well as the final selection stage.
Simon WALKER, managing director, Challenge Business and twice veteran of the Global Challenge, comments: "It's one of the toughest jobs in the world but we've chosen a really great bunch of people. We feel the skippers we've selected are very much up for the challenge of competitively racing the yachts around the world, whilst at the same time balancing the needs of all the people who are so passionately involved in this race.
"The unique selection process by which we've selected the skippers means that we're very confident that this group of skippers are more than capable of coping with anything thrown at them. No two Global Challenges have been the same and I'm sure this race will be no exception."
Sir Chay Blyth, CBE, BEM comments: "Well done to the final 12, they've really been put through their paces in the most demanding skipper selection we have thus far had.
"With these skippers leading the yachts the Global Challenge 2004/5 looks set to be a fantastic race and extremely competitive."