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Challenger 3 - CF416 ARC 2016 CH3 - Blog 2016-12-08

Wednesday 7 Dec 2016

The last 24 hours have been very interesting, and somewhat busy. On the lighter side, the ocean warrior barber was requested to pick up the scissors and chop, oops, cut Ralf’s hair. I hadn’t packed my hair scissors and had to rely on the pair from the first aid box, heaven help us if we need to actually cut skin !!

We have been running the spinnaker constantly and through the night, achieving some good speeds and catching up Challenger 2. Last night we dropped it just as a squall was about to hit, and a bloody good call that was from the Mate, dropping the spinny and raising the yankee moments before the rain and turbulence surrounded the boat.

Off watch had come and gone and the spinny still needed to be wooled, and as usual a game set of crew all mucked in with the task in hand. As we were loading the wooled spinny in the bag Andrew notice a tear in the kite, quite a substantial bugger too. So my bunk will have to wait as I prepared to sew and tape up the wounded spinny, ably assisted by supporters fetching various bits  I needed to tackle the job. In the early hours I had finished with help from Nic as we laid out the wounded soldier and attached tape. It was agreed to un-wool the spinny and check it out for further tears or holes, but this would be done on 5am watch, my watch !!

I have to admit that I did not want to get out of my bunk on the 5am shout, but it’s what we do. We waited until 6am for the light and assisted by Hilary we went below and opened up the spinny for a thorough inspection, finding a small hole and another tear. Now repaired we re-wooled the spinny and await its grand entrance as I hear the shout “hoist the spinny”, a tense moment for all as the stick man rose majestically in to the sky line, it looked like the repair had held and just as we all breathed in relief we heard that distinctive sheering sound as the spinny started to tear its self apart in the most dramatic way, shout was heard, “ spike the spinny, drop the spinny”. So the spinny now lies dead in its bag in the sail locker never to see St Lucia or Antigua. The repairs were still intact.

Sailing teaches you to do your best and be  prepared for disappointment.

The poled out yankee is giving us a good course and good mileage as we look toward trimming, trimming, trimming and arriving in St Lucia as champions.



A dramatic end for our spinnaker after a dramatic night!

After some skillful sail repair by Peter and Nic the spinnaker was clipped and loaded onto the pole out.  The winds were favourable (16knots) and we were prepared to try and increase our current 8 mile lead on Challenger 2 after our comeback from 47 behind a few days earlier.

Ricky wisely told me to stick my harness on in case it blew with the new repairs…No sooner had the wool popped than the head of the kite parted from the rest of its body and all flew dramatically.  I shouted for someone to take a photo, Ricky shouted for the spike…the skipper won and off I went climbing, out of breath having just sweated up the Spinny halyard.  Andrew led the haul down as all hands fought the billowing giant down.  A shadow of its former, powerful self, our poor sail dragged in the water and came out in tatters, both tapes fluttering in the wind. So, now a little soggy and wrapped up in its yellow bag the end of our journey together (other than being a brilliant beanbag to sleep on!). Yankee 1 and staysail went up in a matter of minutes…That should be us set now until the finish…fingers crossed our Yankee 1 will hold out over night.

We now have less than 100 Nm to go and the crew are getting excited about the prospect of being ashore tomorrow. We ae going through the series of “lasts” at the moment, doing the last night watches and we have just has the “last supper”. It was a formal affair with the table laid with flowers and serviettes. The menu was as follows :

The Last Supper 7.12.2016 Aboard S/Y Challenger 3

Atlantic Ocean - 14 °58N 59°07W

Suggestion du Chef

Starter: A sniff of rum or; warmed up potatoes a la maison.

Main course: A daring experimental approach to pork and it’s jardinière.

Dessert: A medley of tins deluxe.

Beverages :Chef’s personal selection from the extensive range of fine Atlantic froth; aged grey tank water – delicately flavoured.

It was enjoyed by all and the squall which had deluged the boat with rain and lit up the sky with lightning abated for a small while to allow all the crew down below together at the table with just myself and Kirstie on deck keeping an eye on things and being lit up by the still impressive lightning show.

We have had no AIS contact with Challenger 2 all day and are unaware of how we are doing compared to them in the race. So we are doing all that we can do really, sail as fast as we can towards the finish line. I am aware that they are further South than us, which is a slight advantage in the current and forecast winds, so it is still all to play for.

It has been an interesting and varied crossing with lots of highlights and fun, but the crew and myself are now looking forward to the delights and relaxations of St Lucia and the other islands of the Caribbean.

Ricky (skipper)


Ricky Chalmers



Challenger 3


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