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Challenger 3 - ARC 2016 BLOG

 Monday 5th December


The Board of Inquiry on the disappearance of the Blog, with Bill as the plaintiff and Ralph as his legal advisor has been postponed until further notice. Apparently parts of the Blog were traced through e-mail, Cloud etc. A Report will be commissioned at vast cost but it is understood that after several heads have been nominated, and due Maxwelisation, it is not expected to be published before the decommissioning of Challenger 3.


Morale remains high, despite the mysterious gain in ground by Challenger 2. Our blue Spinny is flying with an SOG of 5.6K. Ricky has promised us blood. Sweat and tears to keep ahead, with woolling spinnakers, Yanky poles and grinding winches all night until we have won. Yipee.


Meanwhile the competition between the 3 Watchkeepers for the most miles per watch/hour has hotted up, with Nic’s lead dwindling by the hour and Peter snapping at his heels.  Andrew is still in the running. A close finish is expected;   perhaps all three will be dumped in the Pool in the interests of corporate unity.


The crew are still coughing well but are due for a complete recovery after a few tots of Rum administered by Doc Nick in Rodney Bay. Watchleaders have also been hit by the lurgy. With the totally mysterious exception of our Doc.  Tony is conducting a police inquiry into this and will report back in due course.   Dreams are varied, but Ice cream, beer, and burgers are high on the list.

It is hot, hot, hot.   Our  Mother Watch system has now ended. Offgoing watches do the housekeeping and cooking. With Bill in his rightful role as bog cleaner.


Deckhand Bill

05.1800Z Dec 2016


Tuesday 6th

The Chase 0300

The wind has finally filled in to 13-15knots , and we are flying at last !. Even better our course is directly heading for St Lucia .The spinny was hoisted at daybreak yesterday , our last gasp effort to catch Challenger 2. Due to vagaries of wind and weather patterns, and no doubt some fine sailing, they  have opened up a commanding lead of 40+miles over the last week or so, but now at last they are within reach . We have the advantage of a working spinny ( for the moment), and they will be flying the Yankee 1 and staysail as we know they blew their spinney a week ago. They suddenly appear on AIS and its game on ! We have closed to 17 miles  and are gaining at a mile per hour, as the wind is absolutely perfect for the chase under spinny. The excitement mounts and Tony  breaks into the treats locker, and we all celebrate with some fruit pastilles!!Ricky puts in an epic shift on the helm as clouds bring gusts of 18 knots,  we lurch to windward, then bear away and  surf into the blackness at 10 knots …not for faint hearted helms ! Now its down to 13 miles, and we expect to be able to see their mast soon after daybreak, then we will move in for the kill…..





Tuesday 6th



….and what a night. Providence gave Challenger 3 a  little cloud that hovered on its portside giving that essential lift, with a steady 15-16 k  and an overtake speed of 2 k over our rival. It seems only a matter of time (Breakfast) before we will see their mast top in our 11 o’clock.  Ricky has helmed for more hours than we can count and has kept the spinny wonderfully taught.


The sense of excitement is prevailing throughout. The ideal would be a dashing close haul into Rodney Bay with the 3 Challengers – Challenger 3 in the lead of course. We will see. Possibly less than 3 days to go- the ETA is early hours on Friday all being well.


The crew is sad that Challenger 2 lost its spinny and tore its Yankee.  Our condolences go out to all on board.


We have potatoes, milk and some bananas to spare.




Deckhand and Head head banger.



The hunt is on! Flying the spinnaker yesterday led to the decision to fly it overnight to maximise our speed through lighter winds.  Our late midday brief included a mental preparation to fly the kite overnight, always being ready to drop incase of a squall, hoist, pole out the yankee 1, wool the spinny and re-launch at a moments notice.  It was really nice to see the whole crew, although tired and struggling to sleep in the steel hulled oven that is a challenger yacht, were keen and enthusiastic about our last attempt to regain the lead or at least finish with an acceptable distance between the boats.
I left Ricky on deck knowing he was in race mode and would do his best to stay up all night squeezing every bit of speed out of the sails whilst managing the risk of blowing it.
Sometime during the night, I was rudely awoken by an excited skipper, bouncing around my cabin, shaking me awake to let me know that we had caught up enough with the other challenger to have them show up on AIS.  Obviously wide-eyed from helming and the elation of our amazing progress it was hard for me to match his sky high mood as I squinted at him, trying to work out where I was, why it was dark and why I had this mad man jumping up and down like a 4 year old in a candy shop.
On coming on deck this morning, the Jedi Spinnaker Helm was still stood at the wheel and we are now 11.6 miles away, but only 6 on a direct north – south basis.
I took the reins for a while, cruising at 10knots at times in winds up 18knots true.  Quite nerve wracking when you know the whole crew are relying on you to make good speed whilst also not screwing up and blowing the kite to bits – destroying our hard won chances of catching Ch 2.
What an amazing race so far! – Whatever happens it’s been brilliant to match race across a whole ocean.  Always having that pressure of the other boat behind or ahead, knowing they are in similar winds on an identical boat…it’s all down to tactics, trim and helming – no luck, no excuses, just getting the job done.
All the boats have had their usual ocean sailing problems, from damaged sails to generator and water maker problems but all are fighting hard to do the best they can….A few more days of what is going to be nail biting racing, trying to somehow get enough rest to put the effort in when needed.

Kirstie Rowe J Happy Mate J

Please visit this link on First Class Sailing website for a more detailed blog



Ricky Chalmers



Challenger 3


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