In 1960 Blondie Haslar's 'amazing idea' for a solo transatlantic race was first sailed by five yachts, four of which were under 26ft. Blondie called his junk-rigged Folkboat Jester because 'she was such a bloody joke!' With the minimum of aids, everyone managed a safe passage and Francis Chichester won in his Gipsy Moth III.
The race has continued in various formats since then but the 2006 version returns to the original concept of simplicity and self reliance. There are no sponsors, no rules, no entrance fees, no organising club and very little in the way of modern aids.
Roger Taylor, Corinthian Cruiser Member, had harboured a quiet intention to take part in this most corinthian of races for some time and on June 3rd crossed the start line at Plymouth, bound for Newport, Rhode Island. He was one of ten starters from the original list of fourteen and skippers the smallest boat in the race, his 21ft junk-rigged Corribee, Mingming.
Roger's on-shore support team consisted of various family members, packing his pre-prepared meals and other supplies, and checking over the boat. At the start, his cousin Frances took the photos for the family album as Mingming, the only boat without an engine, was towed to the line by Sterenn, another competitor.
The fleet got away in a cloudless sky and brilliant sunshine. Brenda, his partner, doesn't expect to hear directly from Roger until he reaches Newport, some time in the middle of July.
Update-9 June 2006
Of the ten boats who made the start, two have now retired - Tim McCloy China Blue retired with no damage and Mike Winter Jacinta due to self steering problems and a torn sail. Few of the skippers are able to report positions; however positions for Andromeda, Sterenn and Triple Venture are tracked on www.oceanracetrack.com These are three of the largest boats (27ft, 30ft, & 28ft ) so the others are likely to be some way behind. See also www.jesterinfo.org
Update-12 June 2006
Tony Head in Triple Venture has also retired and is making for Baltimore in Southern Ireland for repairs.
Update-17 June 2006
Tony Head in Triple Venture has rejoined the Challenge this morning.
Update-21 June 2006
Sherman Wright in Andromeda has pulled out of the race and is enjoying the scenery in the Azores. My information is that all current competitors are in the over-50 age group! Seven boats continue.
Update-26th June 2006
Trevor Leek in Jester is making for Cork to check gale damage to sails, mast and rudder before deciding whether he can continue. His progress has been disappointingly slow; 300 miles in three weeks after meeting atrocious weather conditions. Better news of Sterenn who is reported to be 987 miles short of Long Island.
Update-6th July 2006
Sterenn, helmed by Eric Andlauer, has made it!
He took 31 days 15 hours 35 minutes. Eric was escorted to Newport by the Harbourmaster and found a mooring for the night. He dined on roast beef,cheese sandwiches and champagne and was probably looking forward to a proper night's sleep!
Trevor Leek in Jester has found it impossible to get a replacement sail in less than a month. This doesn't give him enough time to complete the race this summer and return. He'll probably complete the race next year. With no rules to this race there obviously isn't a time limit!
Fingers crossed that Roger in Mingming is just plodding on....
Further news will be posted when received.