Sir Chay Blyth and his Contest 48

Sir Chay Blyth is best known for his daring and challenging adventures such as rowing the Atlantic in 1966 or competing in the original solo, non-stop round the world yacht race in 1968 (The Golden Globe Race). He is less well known for his love of cruising…but a man of his stature should know a good boat when he see’s one, and he chose a Contest for his cruising adventures. Below, in his own words he give his reasons why…

Our Contest Adventure

My wife and I started our ‘Grand Finally’ thanks to the ARC, Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. We had become involved with the ARC on the periphery through a business connection. We had visited the starting and the finishing of the event a few times and that kicked off our thinking process. The participants all seemed to have great fun and a great flair of camaraderie seemed to emerge.

It seemed a storage thought process for me, given that I’d spent the most of my adult life building, sailing and racing yachts. Almost the ultimate ‘bus man’s holiday’. However, thinking was easy to progress to a world cruising circumnavigation! The decision around 2011 was made, first on the agenda, which type of yacht, size and a host of other decisions associated with which yacht?

Under this thinking, was a layer associated only with myself. Would I like cruising, given it was always at the top off the tree for me when playing boats. We would finish a race, no need for to worry about booking a berth or parking, the shore team took care of all that. Cruising for me would be a new experience as well as a learning curve, but nothing insurmountable. More importantly, was which yacht?

The result was helped by Andrew Roberts and Matthew Ratsey of the Challenge Business. They were responsible for the build programme of two fleets of yachts for to circumnavigate the world against the prevailing winds and currents, one fleet 68 feet then the second 72 feet. Their knowledge and experience was second to none.

Another layer of knowledge came from Andrew Bishop the Director, now owner of the ARC. Each year, there is a study and analysis of the yachts that take part in the event. This embraces all sorts of equipment, safety, communications, water makers just about everything. It’s all there free to be read via Yachting World who sponsor the reader has so it’s totally unbiased.

After a great deal of reading, searching and looking, it boiled down to two types of yacht and size. Either a Hallberg-Rassy or a Contest, both have excellent reputations and came out consistently well in the research. It had to be a heavy sort of boat, I didn’t want us thrown about like a cork in heavy seas. It had to be a length that was easily manageable for a husband and wife team, but also gave accommodation for invited guests.

We eventually settled on the Contest 48, a classic looking boat with lovely lines. A manufacturer that has a solid reputation for delivering solid high quality workmanship. Of course being a Scot, I liked that they have a high resale value.

At the time of looking, there were only three on the market each having comprehensive specifications. We settled on one that was for sale in Fethiye, Turkey. After the purchase we had a refit commiserate with a world circumnavigation. It was at this juncture that fate was to intervene! I had a bad accident breaking my femur in two places and splintering it into multiple fragments.

It took almost a year to recover and our plans in turn changed. Felicity and I now enjoy cruising around Turkey which is a fabulous area to sale in, coupled with the odd expedition to the Greek Islands. Although curtailed, we love the boat which is fabulous to sale and in the odd bad weather we’ve experience in her, exceptionally safe.

My trouble is that I still think I’m a 26 year old Paratrooper instead of a 75 year old with a gammy leg! My mind wanders back now and again to the ARC and the Pacific?

Sir Chay Blyth.