The Challenge race is history, but take a look at what these yachts and crews went through
Less than a year after Sir Chay Blyth’s Challenge Business went into administration, the company’s 16-strong fleet of 67ft and 72ft steel yachts has nearly all been sold off. The brokers, Berthon, have just four more left on their books and one of those is under offer.
Most have gone to individual owners although the Tall Ships Youth Trust recently bought a group of four. By the end of the year, however, the fleet will probably be entirely dispersed and the concept of a one-design race upwind through the Southern Ocean will finally and irrevocably become history.
I can’t help feeling sad about this. The Challenge races contributed a lot to our understanding of seamanship, boat design and safe practices in heavy weather. It was in most ways more relevant to the average reader’s sailing and type of yacht than most super-league downwind races, and not surprisingly features on it always went down a storm. I see there have been four times as many views for the YouTube clip below, for instance, than for all the Velux 5 Ocean videos together.
As I say, it’s history now, but for a vivid reminder of the Challenge races and what the crews and yachts went through, take a look at this quite fantastic video of them bashing upwind in the Southern Ocean.