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1971: Sailor's record 'wrong way' voyage

A British man has become the first to sail the world non-stop in the "wrong" direction - east to west - against the prevailing winds and currents.

Chay Blyth, 31, set out on his 30,000-mile voyage from Hamble in Hampshire last October aboard a specially designed yacht, British Steel.

Today as the former paratrooper docked back at Hamble, he was met by a flotilla of 200 boats.

The welcoming party of 6,000 people included the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Princess Anne and Prime Minister Edward Heath.

The prime minister, who is also a keen sailor, praised Mr Blyth's achievement.

"We admire you for the skill and determination you have shown in this personal endeavour," he said.

"We are proud of the British boat, British built with British material which has carried you so successfully."

Atlantic achievement

The 292-day voyage is the fastest non-stop world crossing on record.

Mr Blyth said it had been a long trip but he had thoroughly enjoyed it.

"I think I had the best of it - the people back home were doing all the worrying really, mainly my wife," he said.

This is not Mr Blyth's first long-distance sea expedition.

In 1966 he rowed the Atlantic in 92 days with fellow paratrooper John Ridgway.

In 1968-69 after leaving the army he took part in the Golden Globe race around the world - but it ended in near disaster after his vessel overturned.

In Context
Chay Blyth's successful round-the-world-voyage followed on from similar trips made by Sir Francis Chichester in 1967 and Robin Knox-Johnston in 1969 - winner of the Golden Globe.

A national hero after his accomplishment, Mr Blyth later supervised the building of 77-foot ocean racer and trained a team of paratroopers for the Whitbread round-the-world race.

He set up the first "wrong way" round the world yacht race which first took place in 1992 and is now held every four years.

In 1995 Chay Blyth founded a rowing challenge in which teams of two row nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic ocean.

He received a knighthood for services to yachting in 1997.


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