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Welcome to the Jester Challenge forum

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Jake Kavanagh from Practical Boat Owner writes:

The Jester Challenge is a bi-annual event in which boats of under 30ft compete in a single-handed ‘race’ to Atlantic destinations.

In June 2008, the race is from Plymouth to the Azores. In June 2010, it leaves Plymouth for Rhode Island, America.

In a bid to recapture the very essence of ocean racing, there are no entry fees, no judges, no committees, no scrutineering, and no real limits, with the exception that all boats taking part should be under 30ft loa.. (Bigger boats can take part by invitation from the other competitors.) If you feel you and your boat are up to it, you’re welcome to join in.

The responsibility is totally on each skipper to set off fully prepared for the journey ahead.

To help with preparation, it is recommended that they compete a 500-mile non-stop offshore passage in the competing boat, to iron out any snags.

Last years Challenge saw 11 competitors leave for America, with two completing the trip. The rest withdrew at various stages due to gear failure or storm damage, but all made it safely home.

What appeals to PBO is that it gives ocean racing back to the ordinary yachtsmen, many on a tight budget. The competing boats are all modified cruising yachts – with several of them under 7 metres (22ft) loa. Some of the ideas for short-handed sailing we have seen have been ingenious.

So far, over 55 skippers have registered for the Azores race in 2008, and the entries are still coming in. Challengers for the Atlantic in 2010 are already in the 40’s.

Roger Taylor was a competitor in last years Atlantic Challenge in his junk-rigged Corribee 21 Ming-ming, and has summed this new forum up for us…

‘The Jester Challenge has been described as ' a modern experiment in old-fashioned skipper responsibility'.

This forum is for all those interested in the single- or short-handed sailing of small (typically under 30') boats over long distances. It is for those who value good seamanship over out-and-out speed, who want to take full and total responsibility for their conduct at sea, and who abhor the rules, regulations and general 'nannydom' that threaten our freedoms.

The forum is open for discussion and exchanges of information on any related topic, be it design, boat selection, planning and preparation, equipment, victualling, safety factors, routeing, heavy weather tactics - anything from the best boat to the best bottle-opener!

The accent is on developing self-sufficiency born of rigorous and uncompromising preparation, a full and realistic assessment of the risks of sea-going in small craft, all combined with good sense and good seamanship...’

More details of the jester Challenge can be found at .
www.jesterinfo.org
 
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Jake's asked me to post these pics from the start of the 2006 Jester Atlantic Challenge:

provisions stowed in Roger Taylors 21ft Corribee for his Atlantic Challenge


Bill Churchouse aboard his Westerly 22 at the start line.


Ming-ming, carrying an extra forward sail to supplement her junk rig. Note the two large oars that also double as a bow sprit, and the lack of an engine.


Peter Hill in Shanti. His 'minimal' Kingfisher 22 made it across to Rhode Island in 44 days.
 

Oen

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21 Mar 2006
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Another reason why I shouldn't have sold my Splinter, I fear! That said, I am still seriously opposed to single-handed ocean sailing... However, as a 'safety professional', that's hardly surprising, is it?
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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It would certainly be good to know your reasons for opposing single-handed ocean sailing.
 

Oen

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Extremely briefly:

On one hand, fatigue is an enormous problem, affecting one's ability to function effectively in any environment, let alone offshore yachting. You might argue that people should be allowed to put themselves at risk, and I would probably not take huge issue with that, so long as those involved are happy to be left to their ends rather than expecting rescue.

On the other hand, I disagree fervently with those who suggest that keeping a good lookout is something that can justifiably be excused the single-handed fraternity.
 

Twisterowner

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23 Jul 2005
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[ QUOTE ]
.............You might argue that people should be allowed to put themselves at risk, and I would probably not take huge issue with that, so long as those involved are happy to be left to their ends rather than expecting rescue............

.............On the other hand, I disagree fervently with those who suggest that keeping a good lookout is something that can justifiably be excused the single-handed fraternity. ...............


[/ QUOTE ]

To deal with your first point. Granted that singlehanded yachtsmen do sometimes get into difficulties but do you know of any instance where one has shown any expectation that he/she is entitled to be rescued? Certainly they might let it be known that they are in difficulties and be very grateful if someone does help but that's a far cry from expecting help. Also do you know of any instance where some person or organisation has been unwilling to help; most people admire personal courage and are happy to do what they can to foster it.

Secondly, a singlehanded yachtsman in a small boat of the type used in the Jester Challenge offshore poses no measurable risk to anyone else's life or property. In the extremely unlikely event of him/her colliding with another yacht in the open ocean it will probably be going in the same direction, as determined by the wind, so it is only going to be a glancing blow. If he/she collides with a ship or a reef the only person who will suffer is the singlehander.
They also develop an awareness, or sixth sense, of what is going on around them which the molly-coddled majority never experience.

You say you are a "safety professional". You are therefore used to carrying out "risk assessments". Perhaps you would do one for us? I'm not being facetious here; it really would be interesting to have someone look at all the factors involved and tell us how risky offshore single-handed sailing really is to other parties.
 

TimDaniel

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11 Jan 2007
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Should this apply to people who fall off mountains or people who start fires by smoking in bed or leaving chip pans on? Should they be left to look after themselves?
 

ccoh

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14 Mar 2007
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Keith Walker summed it up best: "This forum is for all those interested in the single- or short-handed sailing of small (typically under 30') boats over long distances. It is for those who value good seamanship over out-and-out speed, who want to take full and total responsibility for their conduct at sea, and who abhor the rules, regulations and general 'nannydom' that threaten our freedoms."

Unfortunately, the 'nannydom' Mr. Walker refers to is driven not just by the political agenda of increasingly intrusive governments but also the commercial imperatives of those who make a living as 'safety professionals'.
 

Twisterowner

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[ QUOTE ]
Should this apply to people who fall off mountains or people who start fires by smoking in bed or leaving chip pans on? Should they be left to look after themselves?


[/ QUOTE ]

Two different situations there.

The lone mountaineeer is somewhat akin to the lone sailor, he is risking nobody's life except his own [unless he falls on someone!] and if he gets in a jam he can only hope that a mountain rescue team will help him, in the same way that he would be willing to help other mountaineers.

Someone who starts a fire in the way you suggest is not only risking his own life but is also putting his neighbours at risk. It is in everyone's interest to deal with the fire and, in any case, he does pay for the Fire Brigade so even though he may be a bloody fool, he is entitled to their service!
 

Oen

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21 Mar 2006
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Interestingly, risk assessments (properly, hazard identification and risk assessment - these are two distinct processes) are not a routine part of my present job, which is more concerned with dealing with the aftermath...

That said, yes, hazard and risk assessment of single-handed offshore sailing is entirely possible, though there is a paucity of data in some areas. In its most basic form, it's something that doesn't require a professional touch, and can be taught in about half an hour.

I must point out that, notwithstanding my earlier remarks, I do fully recognise the fulfillment to be gained from single-handing...
 

andlauer

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15 Mar 2007
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Bonjour
I'm also a "safety man" I'm consultant in Civil Aviation safety at state and airports level.
I'm also the skipper of Sterenn and I participated to the Jester Challene and arrived at Newport in safe condition.
Fatigue is an issue but with preventing actions sleepping management technics... it is possible to manage it on long distance difficult sailing conditions.
The watch may be maintained on single handed : as the killing cargo takes more than 1/2 hour to sail from the horizon to your position if you go for a watch every 1/2 hours day and night the watch is asumed. Thats what I did for 31 days.
To be honnest I forgot to wake up a few times in the middle of the night.
Amicalement
Eric /forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
 

andlauer

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Bonjour
I haven't formalized risk assessment of the Jester Challenge but the mental work has already been done to prepare Sterenn and her skipper.
If you want we could create a special thread on the subject.
Amicalement
Eric
 

Twisterowner

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I personally don't need the risk assesment. As far as I am concerned a person should be free to do what he/she likes, provided it doesn't hurt or unduly annoy anyone else. Live and let live!

But I would like to see what our "safety professional" makes of it. I have a feeling that sailing alone is probably less risky to your health than many other activities e.g. driving a car, walking round a British city at night, overworking, listening to politicians and worrying about health and safety!
 

ccoh

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14 Mar 2007
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I sail in Asian waters. I'm not sure it would stand too much risk assessment: inaccurate charts, some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world (with some of the least regulated shipping), unlit fishing fleets, six months' risk of typhoons, tsunamis, religious and political uprisings, corrupt local bureaucracy... oh, and the odd pirate. :)LOL
 

Oen

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21 Mar 2006
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[ QUOTE ]
I have a feeling that sailing alone is probably less risky to your health than many other activities

[/ QUOTE ]

I really don't want to hijack this thread - it's not about risk assessment, but sailing!!!

However, two points: First, Twisterowner is referring to comparative risk assessment, which is another discipline, and second, I'd be happy to partake in a separate thread looking at a 'risk assessment' of single-handing.

This (non-comparative) assessment would aim to establish:

1 What are the hazards facing sailors of small craft?
2 What are the hazards facing the single-hander in particular?
3 How probable are these hazards to occur?
4 How grave is the outcome?
5 For avoidable hazards, how may they be avoided?
6 For unavoidable hazards, what mitigation is available and is it worthwhile (bearing in mind it might bring it's own difficulties)?

So, d'accord, we might have an interesting thread... I am at your disposal.

/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

cnh

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18 Oct 2003
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I'm down for the Jester, and went to the Azores singlehanded about ten years ago.

Once clear of coastal waters, I slept for about eight hours each night.

If I get run down, I die. I didn't take a liferaft. I have no dependants. I think the world will be able to cope without me.

My account of the trip can be found at

Channel and Baltic Guide

Nicholas Hill
 

fdmarsden

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20 Sep 2005
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home. Rugby, mooring, Portland
I sail single/shorthanded; have no interest in crossing oceans, but would welcome some shorter events in the spirit of the Jester Challenge, ie. no sponsorship, smaller boats etc.

I am aware of Petite Bateau events; they seem to be attracting boats generally over 40'
 

johndisney

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28 Jan 2007
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As a safety professional of some years and a sailor for even more years I can confirm that "Risk" is something we face when we get out of bed in the morning and forget about when we go back to bed! We face and manage risks everyday of our lives and it's only when we go to work that we suddenly get twitchy and look for some one to hold our hands. Get over it live your life and manage the daily risks as you have done since your mother let you go to school on your own.

As for the major risks involved they are 1. falling over the side, wear a harness and a life jacket. 2. Head injury from the boom, be aware of the wind and accidental gybes, use a preventor. 3. Fire and explosion from gas/spirit cookers always have a fire blanket and an extinguisher near to hand keep the cooking areas well ventilated.
4. DiHydro monoxide(H2O) poisoning, don't inhale the water...
 
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