Jester Challenge 2014

May 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I bought Duet 2 years ago with the intention of doing a circumnavigation of the UK with her at some point. It’s something I would still like to do, but I’d like to visit some places so it’s probably not going to get done in one season as I’d planned originally…

In the meantime I’ve stumbled across the Jester Challenge guys and been kinda charmed by their ethos. I say guys, because I cannot find any evidence of any lady skippers attempting any of the Challenges. Ever. (I may be wrong though…)

If you’ve not heard of the Jester Challenge (you must not call it a race, there are no prizes) then at it’s essence is simple, single handed ocean racing in boats under 30 foot with no sponsorship (the full rules are here) – And there’s usually a Hurley 22 amongst the fleet, which is probably how I found them…

There is a Jester Challenge every year from Plymouth, either to Baltimore (in Ireland), the Azores, or as it is this year, to Newport, Rhode Island.

So they were due to start from Plymouth yesterday, and if you’re in the UK you’ll be well aware that we had a bit of stormy weather roll in from the West last week.  I was thrilled to see this SIT REP (Situation Report) from Ewen Southby-Tailyour, the organiser, published yesterday evening, and it sums up the Jester Ethos perfectly;

This year, as with last year’s Baltimore Challenge, the weather tried it’s hardest to beat us.  Force 9 from the West with driving rain was forecast and indeed on the Saturday conditions were close to that. The forecast for today was no better and so it was decided to cancel the spectator craft in good time and have the start off the Royal Western Yacht Club’s start line from where the spectators could watch in comfort while the skippers could, or could not, sail depending on their individual wishes. It is not up to the coordinator to delay the start for that would imply taking that decision to sail or not to sail away from the skipper which of course is at the very heart of the Jester ethos. So at 1255 BST our very own, tireless friend and supporter Eric (who was first into Newport in 2006) fired the five-minute gun and Norm (our gallant and equally tireless supporter in Newport) fired the start gun. As it happened there was no one afloat on the line, indeed all the skippers were watching the firing from the Club. The wind was still gusting hugely and the rain was still driving in sheets – sometimes. Nevertheless, the Jester Challenge 2014 was now ‘open’!

Based on my maxim ‘seamanship not showmanship’ it was not the time for heroics but a calm assessment when best to face the Atlantic. At 1600 Andy Lane slipped and sailed, taking advantage of one of the increasing number of lulls while the others decided that a Monday morning (very early) start would give them a full day of light to get well beyond the Lizard. The forecast from Tuesday onwards offers a vast improvement in conditions.

I believe that six boats have now started, with a further four pending a late start.

Not sure there’s a Hurley 22 this year, but bloody good luck to them I say.

Boat Envy

March 4, 2014 at 7:23 am

This is a lovely tour around Carole Hasse’s Nordic Folkboat.

How gorgeous (and clean) is it? Very simple (no through hulls, minimal electrics, simple plumbing) but it looks pretty comfortable and clearly very well outfitted.

I understand her comments about her boat feeling safe, and manageable… and almost affordable!

I wonder how easily Duet would scull?

Dear Santa…

February 26, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I know it’s early yet, but I want one of these:

I'm the skipper get over it t-shirt

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