copyright © Sandra Leek 2006

Roger Taylor

I was born within sight and smell of the sea at West Kirby on the Dee estuary. My father’s family were all merchant seamen or involved in shipping.. My father crossed the North Atlantic many times during the war as a Chief Radio Officer. I started sailing at the age of about eight, and was a Sea Scout and then a Sea Cadet. I bought my first yacht – a 21’ keeler, in Perth, Western Australia in 1969. In 1971 I was an able seaman aboard the square rigger Endeavour 2, bound from Brisbane to Auckland, when she was wrecked on the North East coast of New Zealand when embayed in the tail end of a tropical storm.That extreme experience, far from putting me off sea-going, helped crystallise my ideas about how I would like to do it from there on. To put this into practice, I built my own small ocean cruiser, Roc, 19’ LOA, which I then sailed in the 1974 TransTasman Singlehanded Race. This was the second in this series, and was modelled on the early Transatlantics. Following the race I cruised the Great Barrier Reef in the engineless Roc, before making a return singlehanded passage to New Zealand. At that time she was the smallest yacht to have made one Tasman crossing, let alone two. I then spent four years living, and sailing Roc, in the Bay of Islands, NZ.
Other activities, especially the founding and building up of my own company, once I was back in the UK, kept me off the water for a while.

In 2000 I bought my 38’ LOA 1934 gaff cutter Mary Ellen which I sail out of Burnham-on-Crouch where I now live. After 20 years of relentless work building a successful investment management business, I was already thinking of taking a break when I read about the Jester Challenge. I knew immediately that I had to participate. In line with what I believe is the spirit of the event, I set myself a maximum budget of £10,000 to purchase, fit out, equip and provision a suitable small yacht. Having known of Jester for 40 years or so, I had always been interested in the junk rig. I was therefore delighted to find Mingming (ex-Phaedra), a Corribee carrying a Hasler-Macleod junk rig. Since purchase in August 2005, Mingming has been considerably modified to meet my own ideas on standards of seaworthiness.


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