:: Wales 2004

Fishguard-Goodwick Contest of Seamanship 2004 – Events on the Water

This year the UK introduced a system of heats and finals to each event in the Contest, rather than running two fleets. This was done in order to be patently fair to all crews and it meant running three events per day instead of the usual two. With the gift of a compact site and massive goodwill from all concerned, we managed to achieve our aim. For this we are particularly indebted to the members of the Events Committee for giving so much thought to the preplanning; to Charlie MacAllister and Peter Bell for their highly efficient course setting and to Joe Kelly for taking over the Chair of the Events Committee from David Byatt for the actual Contest and being so firm, fair and even handed to all.

The Practical Challenge, a new event in which crews had to improvise a replacement for broken masts, proved a valuable exercise in seamanship skills and fulfilled a dream of UK AC’s Founder, John Kerr, who had long mused over this possibility. It was won by the Danish crew and the prize was a seaman’s knife each.

Sadly the two other innovations in the events (sailing backwards and the rudderless slalom under sail in L’Esprit) had to be cancelled because of a huge swell. But the mixed crews had already put to sea before the cancellation and very much enjoyed the experience. The objective of L’Esprit was achieved; the fraternization and mixing of crews early in the contest.

As in previous contests, there was an International gig. The crew included young people from Northern Ireland , Eire , Wales and Norway and they were lent Harmonie by Northern Ireland . They had trained in Fishguard alongside UK’s Intégrité and had knitted together into a spirited unit, coached first by Charlie MacAllister of Northern Ireland and then by Diarmaid Murphy of Eire. Russia was lent the brand new Cwch John Kerr and with their highly proficient crew were a joy to watch..

Trophies were given at the end by Admiral Sir Jock Slater GCB LVO DL, the UK ’s Patron. UK received the first prize, a trophy made from wood from SS Constitution and a magnificent Waterford crystal bowl. Belgium received the runner’s up trophy, a silver cup. Canada received the new Spirit of Atlantic Challenge trophy donated by the Rotary Club of Fishguard & Goodwick, judged by jurors and crews using new objective guidelines. Italy was presented with an award for greatest effort in building a boat and getting to the contest. A new trophy this year was the John Kerr Seamanship Award and it was shared between the United Kingdom and Denmark .

"What we did will give us inner strength which we can carry for years." – American Atlantic Challenge team member, 1996.