I have just returned from a very quick trip to Les Sables D'Olonnes by first class travel, and on request by all the top multi-million budgetted racing teams, to offer my highly specialised advice and deeply technical knowledge to those inexperienced boys and girls who are about to (on Saturday 9th) take part in the 2008 Vendee Globe.
Ok then. I have just returned from a trip involving cheap hotels and Ryanair, to join the queues with Joe public, at Les Sables D'Olonnes, to oogle at the bits of kit the likes of which I shall never get my hands on to use in anger, and to quite simply marvel (and be completely green with healthy envy) at the opportunities and challenge that the skippers have now lying before them.
My long term sailing plans ("targets" maybe) include a solo non-stop circumnavigation within the time set by Robin Knox Johnston 40 or so years ago (331 days I think it was), and then a more leisurely circumnavigation or six, accompanied by several poor souls or ten, who will put up with me for that long.
Realistically, I am looking at 10 years or so before I can put the first plan into motion. It would be good if the second could follow soon thereafter.
Now, back to the point of the post. This, I am absolutely sure, has been mentioned by someone before, and if my memory serves correct, it was either Roger Taylor or John Apps. Apologies If my memeory is rubbish, however after my recent trip, it has certainly started to make me think more about it. The point is, I am not the first to have thought of the concept.
The Jester Challenge is, and I believe rightly so for historical reasons, now established as THE event for like-minded sailors who are attracted by the non rules/regulations philosophy. I personally see the Jester Azores Challenge, which I consider it to have been an absolute privelidge to have taken part in, as a "way in" for those, like myself, who are unsure of their abilities, skills, determination etc, possibly constrained by time (as I was) or for many other reasons, to open ocean sailing, and perhaps later, the ultimate Jester Challenge itself.
At the moment, I would advocate nothing in the way of rules, and I refer to the "basic" rules ie over 18, 20-30ft etc etc. I for one, will hopefully be owning and skippering a larger vessel (mid 30ft ?) by then, so the current "rules" would eliminate me from the current "framework".
What I see, is a solo non-stop circumnavigation, run along the lines of the Jester Challenge, and taking nothing whatsoever away from, or it pretending to be "bigger" in any way, than THE Jester Challenge to be run in 2010. For historical reasons, I believe it to be very important that the Jester Challenge remains sacrosanct and pure. It is after all, where it pretty much all started.
I guess what I am really talking about is the first major part of my personal plan (the solo circumnavigation) being completed within a framework similar in many many ways to the Jester Challenge itself.
Clearly, this would not be a few weeks off work, and would be a truly monumental event to work into one's personal life. I have no idea who would be up for it, how many would be up for it, and whether or not the non-existent Jester "Association" would want to have anything to do with it.
So, what say we ?