On Monday the 7th of May I will set off with a fleet of small yachts to take part in the 2018 Jester Challenge. This is a single handed crossing of the North Atlantic from Plymouth in the UK to Newport Rhode Island in the USA. Jester is a 25 foot yacht that took part in the first Single Handed Transatlantic race in 1960, owned and sailed by Blondie Hasler and latterly Mike Richey who continued to take part in the race up until the late 1990s. The yachts taking part are between 20 and 30 feet and would formerly have made up the ‘Jester’ class in the OSTAR, but are now excluded from the event being considered too small. The Jester Challenge website gives more of the history of this unique event , and that of Jester herself and her owner/skippers. https://jesterchallenge.wordpress.com/jester/
Whilst this is not a race it is definitely a challenge, sailing against the prevailing westerly weather systems, avoiding ice limits and meeting fog. The event will test both the skipper and the yacht over a 35 to 40 day crossing. My last attempt was in 2010 when technical problems left me with no alternative but to turn back, and since then I have taken part in other shorter events from Plymouth to Ireland around the Fastnet Rock. Over the years we have made many adaptations to our yacht ‘Sixpence’ for safe ocean sailing either on my own or with my wife Katie, who will meet me in Newport and return with me to the UK. We have travelled many thousands of miles in’ Sixpence’ in the 10 years we have owned her and she has become a very important part of our lives, whether for long distance cruising, weekend pottering or racing.
Why have I chosen the Alzheimers Society? Both my own father Jacko, and my father-in-law John, suffered from Alzheimers in the last years of their lives, and my mother has dementia. Dementia blights millions of lives, both those of the sufferers and for the partners or families who care for them. My parents were very keen sailors, and sowed the seeds of a passion for sailing from a very early age. They owned three yachts and their second yacht Kinta Valley II shared many of the characteristics of our yacht Sixpence. Both are just less than 30 feet, have a racing pedigree, excellent handling at sea and go well to windward – an important factor for this event.
The distance from Plymouth to Rhode Island is 2920 miles (depending on your route) and I have made that my target for fund raising; though I will cover many more miles than that. This is not the first time I have raised money for Alzheimers having done several long distance running events to raise money, and also for my last attempted crossing with the Jester Challenge in 2010.
My fundraising is kindly hosted by Kendall Kingscott Ltd, who I have worked for five and a half years and who are managing these pages and my tracker updates. They will also provide links so that donors or followers can see how I’m progressing.
If you’ve got this far and are minded to donate I can only offer my sincerest thanks for helping me and Kendall Kingscott raise more funds for Alzheimers, and to extend that thanks to all those who have supported and assisted me in past events (you know who you are!).