This familiar yacht has lot of miles behind her and is off on another big mission


This is one of a couple of familiar boats I spotted last week in La Rochelle.

It’s a Challenge 67, an 18-year-old steel design built for the 1992 British Steel Challenge and still one of the sturdiest and most seakindly oceangoing yachts around, which is why so many of them have carried on in new hands doing ocean crossings and high latitutudes expeditions.

This one is owned by a French company and is now named Podorange. It is one of eight yachts accompanying the Mini Transat race to Brazil – skippers volunteer for the role, they keep in VHF contact with the fleet and can be asked to go to investigate problems or assist. They don’t get paid but it is a popular charter.

On this voyage, Podorange is taking two disabled young men, Gilles and Max. They both have cerebral palsy. Max is able to walk a little and move his arms, but Gilles is confined to a wheelchair and the boat has been modified down below to help him move around.

There are 12 crew on board for the crossing, including a doctor and a physiotherapist, but the sailing crew are doing the daily caring for Gilles and Max.

Afterwards, the boat continues doing commercial chartering from Ushuaia to the Antarctic peninsula.

In various guises, Podorange must have done several hundred thousands of miles, including two round the world races, a tour of Asia and numerous transatlantic crossings. Still, she hasn’t done quite as many big voyages as another familiar boat I spotted?.