Staff at MDL’s Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth are looking forward to welcoming some very special visitors into the marina at the end of the week. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger II will be berthing at Queen Anne’s Battery this Friday 23rd October to mark Team Great Britain’s new attempt to win the historic Hale’s Trophy.
The Hale’s Trophy, also commonly known as the Blue Riband, is awarded to the fastest surface commercial passenger vessel crossing the Atlantic Ocean in either direction. In 1986 Richard Branson broke the then world record by two hours on his Virgin Atlantic Challenger II with the help of navigator, Dag Pike who is now a Team Great Britain member. Despite breaking a world record, Richard and Dag didn’t win the Hale’s Trophy as they weren’t a commercial passenger vessel.
Richard George, Team Great Britain’s founder, is now launching a fresh attempt to win the Hale’s Trophy using a new, highly efficient, cutting edge vessel. Richard commented: “I’ve been working on the project for several years and our team involves some of the best powerboat and boat design people around so we are feeling very confident. The whole ethos of this team is to drive efficiency through design engineering and to make the world of powerboating a cleaner place. We have a future strategy which is to approach zero emissions as fast as the technology allows. We have applied methods which are commonplace in aerospace and high end motorsport, to the design of this groundbreaking new vessel. Our biggest challenge is around efficiency and we have designed TGB; a 34m long 13m beam catamaran which has to cross from New York to Bishop Rock Lighthouse off the Scillies using only 1 fuel load – a huge challenge!”
Chris Price, Marina Manager at Queen Anne’s Battery, commented: “We’re delighted to be supporting the team and by berthing with MDL they will have access to first class facilities which we’re hoping will help them bring the Hale’s Trophy back to Great Britain. This is an epic event and we’re proud to be able to get involved.”
Meet the Team
RICHARD GEORGE – Project Leader
Richard is passionate about the sea and raced successfully in the Honda Formula Four Stroke Powerboat Championships. Richard has competed against the World’s elite in the XCAT World Series Powerboat Championships in a 110mph catamaran.
ANDREW S.N. LEA – Naval Architect
Andrew has been involved with a number of progressive companies and projects during his career including the Victory Team Dubai, and Abu Dhabi Ship Building. Andrew has successfully tested several of his high speed designs including the PX3-18, CobraV48 and the DV15MkII. Andrew continues to push the boundaries of high speed vessel design and production in a relentless drive to progress this discipline into the future.
DAG PIKE – Renowned Ocean Challenger
Dag is world renowned for his expertise across multiple aspects of ocean going seamanship. Dag was Navigation Officer on Virgin Atlantic Challenger II in 1986 with Sir Richard Branson, has competed in and won the Round Britain Powerboat race twice and has performed high speed daring feats that would make most humans shudder with fear. Dag has written 43 books on all aspects of performance boating, seamanship and navigation.
GEORGE ROBSON – Design Engineer
George is an aircraft design engineer in Germany, with experience at the highest levels in the aerospace, automotive, motorsport, marine, renewable and buildings industries.
George has been working on this project since June 2013, combining with Andrew Lea to form the design team who have developed through extensive design, analysis, evaluation and optimisation, the vessel in its current form.
RORY POWER – Race Director
Rory is one of the most experienced powerboat racing experts in the World. Rory is an RYA and UIM Race Official and was the Race Team Manager for the Victory UAE; the Class 1 World Powerboat Champions.
Rory and Richard George set themselves an ‘Eco Challenge’ as they felt the industry needed to innovate, develop and change. Both felt that huge efficiencies were available if only the F1 and aerospace thinking could be brought to power boating.
TONY CROSSLEY – Operations
Tony brings a wealth of experience to the team. He is a professional project manager in major construction works. Tony raced in the Honda Formula Four Stroke Powerboat Championships and has also raced in P1 Superstock.
DAN STEVENS – Master Mariner and current owner of Virgin Atlantic Challenger II
Dan is a certified master mariner and has many years experience in commercial vessels ranging from P&O to running his own vessels (and companies).
Dan fully restored the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II and brought her back to the UK.
FABIAN KING – Naval Architecture and 3D Technology Advisor
Fabian is a Chartered Engineer (Royal Institution of Naval Architects) and Yacht Master (commercial endorsement – RYA & MCA). Fabian has led the Exeter University Business School sailing team to beat all comers (37 yachts) in the International MBA Regatta at Cowes in 2010.
MIKE PARSONAGE – Ex Royal Navy Chief Engineer
Mike served in the Royal Navy for 23 years before becoming an Engineer for a FTSE100 real estate company in the City of London. Working with new technologies, often in their infancy, he enjoys both the engineering challenges they present and overcoming them using a logical and methodical approach.
NEIL NORTHMORE – Commercial Maritime Lawyer
Neil is a specialist in marine industry law and the business and regulation of the commercial marine and sports sectors. Neil practiced as a solicitor, both with a Top 100 law firm and through his own legal practice and was the in-house Solicitor and Government Affairs Advisor for the Royal Yachting Association.
In addition, Neil is a Senior RYA Yachtmaster Examiner. During the early years of his career Neil skippered a 22 metre vessel for the Ocean Youth Club and he retains a keen interest in competitive and recreational boating activities.
SUE HANDFORD – Marketing
Sue has worked with Ford Motor Company, Fitch and Ogilvy & Mather to develop marketing positioning, packaging and advertising campaigns that were used in both the UK and Europe.
Sue has worked with the Ministry of Defence in an advisory role as Community Liaison Adviser for the US Navy. Sue is now the managing director of Chocolate Dog Marketing Services.