In 1971, Chay Blyth entered sailing folklore when he became the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world – which meant he was against prevailing winds and currents.
Born in Hawick in the Borders in 1940, Chay became a Parachute Regiment Sergeant by the age of 21 and in 1966, while still a soldier, he and Captain John Ridgeway rowed across the North Atlantic in 92 days in a 20ft open rowing boat.
Chay was awarded the British Empire Medal for his achievement and he set many further sailing records after leaving the Army, such as skippering ‘Great Britain II’ to nine out of 12 trophies in the 1973-74 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.
In 1981, he was also the two-handed Transatlantic Race winner with Rob James in ‘Brittany Ferries’, and co-skipper of the successful Blue Riband transatlantic attempt, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, in 1986.
Chay was also successful in opening up the sport to people with no previous experience by launching events like the British Steel Challenge in 1989. He was knighted for his services to sailing in 1997.
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