Sunday 23 June 2019

Arctic Smoke and the Jester Baltimore Challenge - Part 1 The Challenge

Image result for the jester challenge burgee

The Jester Challenge was conceived and originally organised by WW2 Marine, Blondie Hasler who led crews of Marines in daring raids on enemy shipping in French ports in canoes during the war. A man who undertook amazing acts of skill, determination and courage but did not regard himself a hero. After the war he instigated and took part in a number of the first single handed yacht races across the Atlantic – the OSTAR (originally the Observer Single-handed Trans Atlantic Race) from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island in his modified Junk Rigged Folkboat 'Jester' of around 26 feet in length. However, as the race became an established feature in the yachting calendar, bureaucracy grew and boats under 30 feet were excluded from the event. Blondie established the Jester in response with the ethos being focused on minimum rules and skipper responsibility. The Jester is not a race. After Blondie's death, Mike Richie took over responsibility for Jester and the event. He lost the original Jester at sea and replaced it with a replica. After Mike Richie's death organisation of the event was taken over by Blondie's Biographer, Ewen Southby-Tailyour – commander of the Falklands forces in the 1980's.

The Jester Challenge to Newport is run every 4 years. Recently the intermediate Jester Azores Challenge was added and run every 2 years between the main event challenges. More recently still the Jester Baltimore Challenge was added to run in the remaining empty annual slots. The Baltimore Challenge is from Plymouth to Baltimore in Ireland with Bishop Rock on the South West coast of the Isles of Scilly and the famous Fastnet Rock off South West Ireland left to Starboard. The course is about 250 miles in length (in a straight line). As with all other Challenges, use of an engine is at the skipper's discretion. More engine, less challenge!

Arctic Smoke is three feet to long to qualify as of right to participate in the Challenge but Ewen kindly gave permission for her and other similar sized vessels to participate.

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