On Saturday 11th July 2009 at 13:00hrs, three 67ft steel hulled yachts – Adventure, Challenger and Discoverer – crewed by Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel, will set off from a start gate off Southsea Castle. They’ll be bound for the Canary Islands, on the first leg of a year-long round-the-world Tri-Service Adventurous Sail Training Exercise open to all UK service personnel, Regular and Reserve.
The event is organised by the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC), whose mission is:
to develop the personal qualities essential to members of the British Armed Forces through adventurous sail training in the Service environment.
The circumnavigation is planned to include participation in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race in December 2009 and Antigua Race week in May 2010. All legs will be conducted as Adventure Training expeditions and will be either cruises in company or races in the spirit of Corinthian competition, with the emphasis on safety, seamanship and teamwork. Each crew consists of a skipper, a mate, and 12 others divided into two or three watches. Skipper, mate and watch leaders will all hold relevant qualifications and have done the required amount of sea time in their roles.
The boats are Challenge 67s, designed by David Thomas and Thanos Condylis, of which Devonport Management Ltd. built 10 as the one-design class for the 1992 British Steel Challenge. Two skippers placed in this race have been in the news recently – Mike Golding (second) and Pete Goss (third).
By 1996, the race was known as the BT Global Challenge. There were now 14 boats and Mike Golding won.
I’ll be in Gosport (the home of JSASTC) myself in April and in early June, so I hope to be able to take a look at the boats before they leave UK shores. They will probably have changed quite a bit since they were first designed and built – for a start, we’ve learned a lot about preventing the rigging failures caused by the incessant slapping and banging on long ocean passages. Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV’s stainless steel mast tangs suffered from metal fatigue en route to Australia, and several of the original Challenge 67s suffered rigging screw failures in both 19923 and 1996/7.