A fully-crewed race around the world was the dream of Ted Heath s Morning Cloud navigator Anthony Churchill, who handed the idea to the Royal Naval Sailing Association. The RNSA had project sponsorship from the brewing company, Whitbread and held the first race in 1973. The race had three stopover ports and there were 17 boats that took part racing to a handicap formula. It was won by a Mexican 65-footer. Subsequently held at four-year intervals until 2005, the character of the race changed gradually. The third edition saw the record number of 29 entries and the fifth saw the number of legs increased to six, when there were 23 boats and Sir Peter Blake s maxi-ketch won every leg. Blake had sailed in every previous race and might well have won in 1977, but his 68-foot Ceramco NZ was dismasted on the first leg (to this day the crew meet annually on the anniversary). The style changed for the next race, in 1993/4 when there were two classes the maxi-raters and the specially formulated Whitbread 60s. Volvo entered the fray at this point, providing the Volvo Trophy for what was to be the last Whitbread Round the World Race. In the following race, only the now-Volvo 60s took part and the race extended to nine legs with the start and finish still in Southampton. But the next race saw even more changes with another leg added and the finish at Kiel. It was also the last time the sixty-foot class was used. For the past two races, in 2005 and 2008, a new 70-foot class of even higher performance has been used and it will be used again for the next race. The start has moved from its Solent traditions to Spain, where the Volvo Ocean Race now has its headquarters, in Alicante. Throughout its history the race has been one of triumph and tragedy, of hardship and pleasure, but essentially it has been the ultimate sailing challenge that has attracted the best in the world.