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Start of the first Whitbread A
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Round the World Yacht
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Race with Chay Blyth’s
Great Britain II leading Eric

FISHER
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but only fourteen were to complete the circumnavigation. sir been wearing a harness, he, too, was never found. In January
Alec rose, who, five years previously, had sailed round the world, 1974, while in the tasman sea, Bernie hosking on Great Britain II,
single-handed, stopping only twice, fired the first ever starting fell overboard during a “southerly Buster”. Again, in spite of an
gun. Four legs were staged – portsmouth to Cape town; Cape intensive search, his body was never recovered.
town to sydney; sydney to rio de Janeiro and from rio the fleet
raced back to portsmouth.
Safety First 1977-78
the whole race lasted 144 days with the 77’ ketch, Great tragedies apart, the race was a huge success, and one of the
Britain II, skippered by Chay Blyth and crewed by paratroopers, main lessons learnt for the next race was that survival in these
first to finish on 9 April 1974. the race was won on handicap by most exacting conditions was just as important as speed.
the smaller 65’ Mexican entry, Sayula II, skippered by ramon Whitbread renewed their sponsorship and it was decided to
Carlin with a multi-national crew, which took 152 days to repeat the event every four years. the next race ran from August
complete the course (133 days on corrected time). 1977 to March 1978 and again staged four legs, only this time
this first race was not without its tragedies. In the southern the port of Auckland was used instead of sydney.
ocean, where no man had raced yachts before, three were lost. once again, portsmouth hosted the start and finish. Fifteen
one, paul Waterhouse, was a British Army Corporal competing on yachts from six countries embarked on the circumnavigation and
the Italian swan 55. on 19th november 1973, when the yacht all completed the course. Great Britain II, this time skippered by
broached during a strong gale in the roaring Forties, Waterhouse rob James with sixteen fare-paying crew, once again took line
was flung over the side and, despite a four-hour search, he was honours at the finish after 134 days, but victory on handicap
never found. the second fatality occurred just a few days later went to a Dutchman, Cornelis van rietschoten, on the 65’ ketch
when Dominique Guilllet, on the French entry, 33 Export, went Flyer, which took 136 days to complete the voyage but 119
missing during a sail change in heavy weather. Although he had days on corrected time. this race was notable for the fact that
22 YACHTWORLD.COM MAY 2009
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