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A Voyage to the Sea

A Voyage to the Sea
by Denis Gorman

The amazing story of Denis Gorman's life journey leading up to his participation in the Jester Challenge.

"Denis Gorman’s ‘A Voyage to the Sea’ is an inspirational tale of following your dream, despite the set-backs that life can throw at you, and is delivered in a well-paced narrative that military historians and deep-water sailors will enjoy in equal measure."
Jake Kavanagh
Sailing Today magazine

Order your copy online here

Or by telephone 0116 279 2299

Highly recommended!


This years event proved very difficult with 23 starters and only 10 finishers.
Deep depressions tracking further south than would normally be expected for the time of year were the main cause of the problems encountered.
One of the most amazing crossings was by Olivier Delebecque in GODOT (20ft). Not only was he the smallest entry, but he sailed to Terceira and back with no self-steering! Only using a sheet to tiller steering method he had read about shortly before the start in Self-steering for Sailboats’ by Gerard Dijkstra. as well as a crash course given by Len Hiley.
Jester Azores Challenge 2016 Results

Rory McDougall awarded Jester Medal

The Jester Medal, awarded to a member or non-member of the Ocean Cruising Club who has made "An outstanding contribution to the art of siglehanded sailing" in a vessel of 30ft or less overall, goes to Rory McDougall. Rory built his own boat at a young age and made a solo circumnavigation in it. Rory’s boat, a Wharram Tiki 21 design, is a very small catamaran designed for coastal trekking with minimal accommodation. 

Rory McDougall holds the record as the person who has sailed the smallest catamaran (21ft LOA) round the world. He accomplished this voyage between 1991 and 1997 with a lengthy break in New Zealand. He sailed long stretches single-handed and some of it with one crew. He did a remarkable voyage, encountering very severe weather on a number of occasions. He has been an excellent contributor to the Jester Challenge, and despite the small size and slightness of his boat, only missed out on being first to Newport by a few hours in 2010.

For Rory, following your dreams is a mantra he lives by. At 19 Rory's dream was to circumnavigate with the smallest multihull. He built Cookie, a Wharram Tiki 21 catamaran near Totnes, Devon in 1991. Six years of incredible adventures later, Rory had sailed round the globe and voyaged far within himself. Cookie became the smallest catamaran to circle the world. 13 years on with adventures of marriage and family life being enjoyed, it was also time to test the Rory & Cookie partnership again! Rory entered the Jester Challenge 2010 from Plymouth to Newport, following the footsteps of the OSTAR. 34 days of upwind struggle, Cookie was pipped to the post by just 2 hours. It is believed Cookie is the smallest catamaran to sail the upwind route across the North Atlantic. Cookie now rests on a River Exe mooring, patiently awaiting the nest adventure with Rory....... For more details see or

For lots of pictures and videos visit this page

The start of the Jester Baltimore Challenge 2015
Black Velvet Jester Baltimore Challenge 2015
copyright © Ewen Southby Tailyour 2015
Sunday Morning TRSC JBC2015 Sunday Start

Jester Baltimore Challenge results

I left Whitehills on the Moray Firth on the morning of 4th July, heading first for Björnøya – Bear Island. Bear Island lies about halfway between the North Cape of Norway and Spitsbergen, and is the most southerly of the Svalbard group of islands. I ducked through the Fair Isle passage to be better placed for a short blow form the south-east, and sailed up the west side of the Shetlands, past my old friend, the island of more
Paul Mead and Roger Fitzgerald at the Newport Yacht Club
Paul Mead and Roger Fitzgerald at the Newport Yacht Club

Congratulations to
Paul Mead
Roger  Fitzgerald
for finishing the
2014 Jester Challenge

Paul crossed the Newport RI finish line at 22:40 20th June, local time, aboard Independence II of Charlsian & Roger Fitzgerald crossed the finish line at 12:40 22nd June, local time, aboard Ella Trout III.
A fine achievement!


Ocean Race Track


The Jester Challenge 2014

Start off western end of Plymouth Breakwater at 1300 or 1400 BST (tbc) Sunday 11th May 2014. [HW Devonport 1623  Neaps]

The Jester Challenge is run on a ‘gentlemanly basis’ within the following guidelines:

  • for sailing vessels between 20 and 30 feet (including multi-hulls)
  • human power is the only acceptable alternative propulsion to that of the wind: rowing or clubhauling, for instance, are permissible
  • single-handed to Newport
  • one way
  • stops allowed
  • no time more

    contact: Ewen Southby-Tailyour for further details

Edward Andrzej ZającEdward aboard Holly with Trevor Leek and Denis Gorman following his epic voyage to the Azores in 2012

Edward Andrzej Zając
It is with great sadness that we have to report the loss of Edward Andrzej Zając,  a much admired Polish Jester Challenger. Edward died at sea on 5th July 2013 after falling overboard from Holly II sailing back from the Baltic to Ustka in Poland. The funeral took place on 12th July 2013 in Ustka.
He was honoured with a posthumous national award for his sailing: President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski, in recognition of Edward to promote the freedom of sailing, and the whole of his selfless social activities, posthumously awarded him the Gold Cross of Merit. Distinction February 26, 2014 received at the hands of Edward's sister Pomeranian Governor, Mrs. Stanislaw Walczak.
Edward sailed in the 2012 Jester Azores Challenge and intended to participate in the 2014 Jester Challenge.

Andy Lane's new video of his 2014 Jester Challenge is now on YouTube here

Len Hiley gave an excellent talk at this year’s  Jester Challenge Symposium on ‘Sheet to Tiller Self-steering’ Len sailed over 5.500 miles in the 2014 Jester Challenge using the sheet to tiller method he talked about. This is a chapter from ‘Self-steering for Sailboats’ by Gerard Dijkstra recommended by Len………… Using Sails to Steer the Boat
Len talks about his self steering techniques on YouTube

Another book recommended is 'Self-Steering for Sailing Craft' by John Letcher. John has very kindly allowed his book to be downloaded, for personal use only. download here


1972 OSTAR

Download pdf copy
Pete Hill Trophy

At the start of the 2006 Jester Challenge, Pete Hill, Bill Churchouse and Roger Taylor had a £1 wager over who would be the first to arrive in Newport RI. Pete the subsequent winner is seen here receiving his trophy from Bill Churchouse.


The Loss of Tahiti Belle by Nick Barham

Transatlantic Victualing by Roger Fitzgerald

On Reflection 2
My first sextant was bought from an instrument maker in Glasgow, for 30 shillings I think. It was, of course, a Vernier, and from time to time I would rub graphite, mixed with a little oil, into its elegant silver arcuate scale to bring up the markings. Its mirrors were as bright as the day they were made and a drop of salt water on the corrector screws after adjustment kept them from shifting.
I imagine it dated from the early days of the century, but I had fitted a new telescope which was used for all bodies. My first appointment after buying it (this was during the war) was as assistant navigator in an armed merchant more
The Jester Azores Challenge 2012 results
Matt Rutherford awarded the OCC Jester more
Sailing into Solitude
Sailing into Solitude by Val Howells

An eventful series of voyages in the Merchant Service pumped salt into Val Howells' young bloodstream, resulting in a succession of sailing dinghies and the eventual acquisition of a Scandinavian Folkboat. This vessel, launched in 1958 and named Eira after the owner's wife, was sailed in the 1960 single-handed trans-Atlantic race when Val was invited to take part by Lt Colonel H. G.Hasler. At the time the whole concept of a singlehanded oceanic race was novel. The boats were small and wooden, the word electronics was not even in the dictionary and sponsorship was non-existent. Author and boat thus played a not insignificant part in helping to establish what has become a major event in the international yachting calendar.
The account of this trip was published as 'Sailing Into Solitude' in 1966. Nearly half a century on, the sailing public's appetite for a good seafaring yarn remains as strong as ever, and now Val has extensively re-written 'Solitude' and set up his own publishing company to produce a beautifully bound book that is at once a cracking yarn, a study of a deeply interesting individual and a piece of yachting history.

"From the days of Joshua Slocum there have been many interesting accounts by ‘single-handed’ sailors of their adventures on the high seas. This one differs markedly from most of them, in its intensely personal exploration of how it feels to be alone in the unremitting partnership of sea and boat during a long ocean voyage. The emphasis is far more on the inner man, than on the usual outward events.
Such a book takes a lot of doing, and it is Howells frank, searching introspective that gives it its unusual content, and sheer ability to write entertainingly, penetratingly, and originally that pulls it off.
Val Howells is over six feet tall, with a large beard. His boat was a Folkboat, twenty-five feet overall, little more than nineteen feet on the waterline, with the cabin space offering no more than four feet ten inches of headroom. By any standards, a small boat to embark on an ocean passage; yet he and four others in widely assorted craft, set out from England to race across the Atlantic to New York.
The circumstances that befall them are peculiar enough, but what will enthral the reader the most are the things that go on in this man’s imaginative mind and very human body."

Click here to visit Val's web site and buy his book.


Jester's Ultimate Storm
by Mike Richey

In Heavy Weather Sailing, Adlard Coles defines a survival storm, as distinct from a full gale, as those conditions in which, the wind at Force 10 or above and perhaps gusting at hurricane strength, wind and sea become the masters; there is little the unfortunate mariner can do. It is impossible for anyone in a small boat in the middle of an ocean storm to judge wind-speed or sea-state accurately, if only because the height of eye will be too low to see enough of the sea surface. However, an experienced observer will be able to distinguish between storm-force and gale-force more


MBE, Hon FRIN (1917-2009) by Kai Easton

I suspect I am the only one here who didn’t know Mike in his transatlantic sailing days with Jester, but our lives have circled around each other for years, since I grew up, as it happens, not very far from Newport, just across Narragansett Bay in Barrington.

We met very soon after his 90th birthday in Brighton when my husband Robert, our rough-haired Jack Russell terrier Harry, and I moved into the same regency house where Mike had lived since his early days as the Director of the (Royal) Institute of Navigation.  He was still cycling his 10-speed Peugeot bicycle along the undercliff, a daily exercise of some five miles, and he still kept his classic more


Jester Challenge 2010 results

First Newport Arrivals
Igor Zaretskiy & Rory McDougall celebrate being the the first skippers to arrive in Newport copyright © George Pike 2010
And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: 'Quiet now. Be calm.' And the wind dropped, and there followed a great calm.
This passage from the gospel of Mark (I use the Jerusalem Bible) brings to mind a curious incident in Faial when I first sailed Jester to the more

Jester Azores Challenge 2008 a huge success!
42 Starters and 28 finishers read more

JAC08 Bill Churchouse Arrives
The inimitable Bill Churchouse and his 40-year-old 22' Westerly, Belgean, arrive in Praia da Vitoria after 21 days at sea
 copyright © Tony Head 2008 

Mingming's 2009 Northern Voyage

Left Whitehills Harbour on the Moray Firth, northern Scotland, at high water, 0200H on Friday 26th June. Ran up through the Fair Isle Channel, past Fair Isle, then outside Foula, the westernmost Shetland island. With settled weather from the east, though with occasional calms, I was able to lay down an almost straight track to Jan Mayen, which we reached 121/2 days later, on Wednesday 8th July. The highlights of the leg to Jan Mayen were two encounters with pods of killer whales, and a close shave with a Russian factory trawler, the Armanek Begayev, of Kaliningrad, which we met just inside the Arctic Circle. We had crossed the Arctic Circle......more

Amongst the bergs and bergy bits, 80 miles ENE of Scoresby Sound on the East Greenland coast
Amongst the bergs and bergy bits, 80 miles ENE of Scoresby Sound on the East Greenland coast

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