The 77' maxi, Great Britain II, the only yacht ever to take part in five consecutive Whitbread Round the World Races (the forerunner of the Volvo Ocean Race), is to race once again.
Now renamed Whitbread Heritage to reflect her extensive involvement with the race...
Now renamed Whitbread Heritage to reflect her extensive involvement with the race, she will be on the start line with a host of other legendary boats, competing at next year's Volvo Ocean Race Legends reunion and regatta in Alicante, Spain.
The yacht was built especially to compete in the very first Whitbread, and was skippered by Sir Chay Blyth, who was awarded a CBE as the first person to sail single-handed non-stop westwards around the world in 1971 onboard the 59' British Steel.
Sailed by a crew of paratroopers, Great Britain II won line honours in 1973-74, setting a bench-mark record for the circumnavigation of 144 days. Chay was reunited with the yacht again in 1981, the third Whitbread Race, but this time she raced under the name of United Friendly.
The late Rob James, took the helm in the second Whitbread, held in 1977-78, again winning line honours and slicing 10 days off the record to log an elapsed time of 134 days. Bob Salmon became her skipper in 1985-86, renaming her Norsk Data GB as a result of gaining some sponsorship the day before the start of leg one.
Great Britain II sailed her fifth and final race under the name of With Integrity, skippered by Andy Coghill. Among the crew was a young Englishman, Matt Humphries, who went on to take part in the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race five times, and was skipper of Dolphin and Youth in 1993-94.
Appropriately renamed Whitbread Heritage to reflect her history, she has re-planned her year around the Volvo Ocean Race Legends regatta in October 2011 and will leave her home port of Cowes on the Isle of Wight for Alicante. Many people who have sailed in the first 10 races will be gathering there, and some will be lucky enough to relive their past experiences onboard the very boat that was their home for nine months as long 37 years ago.