Exeter Boatyard breathes new life into Round the World Yacht

Exeter shipyard Exeter Maritime Services (EMS) located at Gabriel’s Wharf on the Exeter Canal is breathing new life into a damaged steel Challenge 72’ sailing yacht, formerly part of Chay Blyth’s legendary fleet built to sail around the world against prevailing winds and currents in what was dubbed the world’s toughest race. 

With a glowing race record and a successful second life as an adventure sailing yacht, her accident in 2011 sent shock waves through the sailing community.  While out of the water on a pitstop preparing for a trip across the Atlantic in 2011 she fell over onto her port side, lost her rig and sustained damage to her structure.

Thought to be too expensive to repair she was destined for scrap until her new owner Brian Pogson, Director of EMS who specialise in the build and repair of steel and aluminium boats, realised the damage was not irreversible.

Brian explained: “We motored her back under her own steam from Plymouth to our boat yard in Exeter, and she was travelling perfectly straight. I knew then she was not twisted and upon further investigation discovered that her damage was localised to the impact zone.

“I strongly felt that this stunning and well-built yacht was too good to scrap and that we could bring her back to life. We have the facilities, skilled team and knowledge of boats and steel already in place. Making the cost of repair feasible for us.”

Sue Grant, Managing Director of yacht brokers Berthon International, said: “The Challenge 72’ is a benchmark yacht for adventure sailing at the highest level.  Berthon has sold the whole fleet, some multiple times and they continue to win hearts and minds the world over.  We are delighted that EMS are going to breathe life back into CHALLENGE BUSINESS 45, and we look forward to finding new owners for her once the repairs are complete”

EMS are collaborating with Mecal, the MCA notifying authority, who are overseeing the repair work and who have been involved with the Challenge yachts from build.  Their role is to ensure that once repaired CB45 is restored to MCA Category 0. This coding will give CB45 the ability to sail commercially worldwide with charter guests aboard which is the toughest category available and demands rigorous attention to structure and safety.

Brian said: “We are working with as many of the original Challenge build team as possible to ensure a good-as-new repair.”

“The original design engineer is supplying the nested information from the original cutting files for us to cut the new steel parts on our water jet table and we’re using the original Challenge Fleet Rigger.

“Throughout her repair we’ve been amazed at the high quality of the original steel and paint; she has no rust and no degradation.  It was this quality of build that minimised the damage to her.”

In addition to the work to the structure, the yacht will have a new rig and sails and any systems that were damaged by the impact will be replaced or rebuilt. She will also be repainted.

The Challenge 72' Class yachts are respected as the strongest and most seaworthy fleet ever to have raced around the world. They and their 67’ sisters are the only fleets to have done so against prevailing winds and currents. 

Challenge Business 45 had a very successful race record having completed 2 safe and successful round the world races: BT Global Challenge 2000/1 (as LOGICA) and the Global Challenge 2004/5 (as BG SPIRIT).  She won the race in 2004/2005 (winning 3 of the 7 legs) and is still the holder of the class record for the Round the Island Race on the south coast. After Sir Chay Blyth’s Challenge Business stopped trading in 2006, she was sold together with her sister ships by Berthon and had a very successful second life as well-known adventure sailing yacht BIG SPIRIT.

The schedule of repair is anticipated to be complete by March 2015.

– Berthon International

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