Earlier on this year Duncan Lougee from our Suffolk office took part in the Jester Challenge 2021. Despite lots of careful preparation things didn’t quite go to plan, but certainly turned out to be ‘challenging’!
The Jester Challenge has become a firm favourite amongst adventurous solo sailors looking for an excuse to head off into the blue on more modest yachts (usually under 30ft), all in the spirit of Blondie Hasler and his folkboat Jester. Once described by Ewen Southby-Tailyour (founder of the Jester Challenge) as ‘a modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self-sufficiency and personal responsibility’ where single-handed sailors pit themselves against the worst the Atlantic can throw at them to reach The Azores or North America, depending on the year.
This year our colleague Duncan Lougee set out from Plymouth to head for the Azores in ‘Minke’, his Varne Folkboat, a GRP version of the original folkboat design. At 25ft they may be small for the Atlantic, but are very much in the spirit of the Jester Challenge. The Varne also has ties to the East coast, as they were built in Maldon on the River Blackwater. Unfortunately, Minke lost her rudder 400 miles from the finish line. With some interesting sailing ‘sans rudder’, excellent seamanship, and a tow, she still made it to the Azores! Practical Boat Owner published a longer article with more details on this impressive feat: