BOAT STORIES British Steel, a great boat for a great enterprise

British Steel is the boat in which Chay Blyth made history as the first man to circumnavigate the globe no-stop from west to east, against prevailing winds. Special boat.

On the 18-meter (59-foot) ketch British Steel, Scotsman Chay Blyth was the first person in the world, in 1971, to circumnavigate the globe solo non-stop westward against prevailing winds. The venture was a success, the sailor succeeded after 292 days: “boat of steel, man of iron,” headlined the press of the time (stele in English means, indeed, steel).

For the time, the boat designed by Robert Clark, a naval architect from Devon, was cutting-edge, designed for solo sailing and with futuristic electronics. She was built by the George Phillip & Son shipyard, located on the Dart River: she was built in the record time of four months, and was described by Don Holme in his book “The Circumnavigators” as a state-of-the-art boat, especially in terms of the use of steel in the hull.

It was mainly because of this innovative feature that Chay Blyth, known to be an adventurer/entrepreneur who was always very budget-conscious, was able to convince the British Steel Corporation (state-owned) to sponsor his project and the boat.

Expressly built to achieve a goal that was considered nearly impossible at the time, its design and construction cost 20,000 pounds at the time. Think that even the boat’s builders did not believe in the success of the project: they had initially planned to install a box below deck in which to put some of their children’s toys, hoping to return them to them accompanied by a note certifying that they had been “around the world.” But then they decided not to, because they were afraid they might be lost!

Instead. Instead Blyth succeeded in his feat, to him all the glories. The boat had been donated to him, but was later sold and changed hands among several owners, including adventurer Pete Goss. It is currently docked at Dartmouth.



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