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The Virgin Trophy

The Virgin Trophy being competed for by competitors in Virgin GB Row 2010 was the brainchild of Sir Richard Branson, who explains here why he wanted to offer a prize to people who undertake great challenges:

"Over the years I have always enjoyed the thrill of a challenge and the spirit of adventure. I have been driven to take part or help with some incredible projects.

"In 1985 I competed to achieve the fastest Atlantic crossing in the Virgin Atlantic Challenger. The crossing was very eventful and the boat eventually capsized but undaunted I tried again the following year and achieved my goal winning the Blue Riband with Challenger II.

"I was captivated by the idea of further challenges so in 1986 my Virgin Atlantic Flyer became the first hot air balloon to cross the Atlantic, reaching speeds of over 130 miles per hour. Encourage by our success I went on to set more records including achieving the first hot air balloon crossing of the Pacific.

"In the late 90s I made several attempts to circumnavigate the globe carried under a balloon. It was an epic battle between teams all trying to achieve one of the few remaining aviation challenges.

"Eventually, after a series of exciting attempts we were beaten to the record by the Breitling team, their capsule is now displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in America along side other aircraft which represent milestones in aviation. Virgin Galactic's prototype craft Spaceship One is displayed in the same hall.

"In 2008, together with my kids, Sam and Holly, I attempted to break the record for sailing across the Atlantic in the 99 foot sloop Virgin Money. We set off from New York into the teeth of a monster storm, which was predicted to speed us across the Ocean. A huge wave put an end to that attempt but I refuse to let any failure quench the desire to overcome the seemingly impossible.

"Twenty-five years after my first attempt to break the Atlantic crossing record, one of the chaps who rescued us on the first Atlantic Challenge had the idea to break the record for rowing around Great Britain and to do this as part of a race. He just needed a bit of help in raising awareness and kick-starting some support on a wider level. This gave me the idea to set up the Virgin Trophy - a prize to be won by anyone who succeeds in such endeavours. Chris Usborne's Virgin GB ROW 2010 is now the first ever Virgin Trophy challenge.

"I very much hope that with the help of the Virgin Trophy, we can empower teams and individuals to challenge themselves and enjoy the sprit of adventure that I have been fortunate to experience through my adventures, good luck to those competing in this event; I will be following your progress with great interest and perhaps a little envy."

The teams racing in Virgin GB Row 2010 will be competing for the prize of the Virgin Trophy, which is sponsored by Virgin Group and Virgin Media.

More about the Virgin Trophy at