25 ft 0 in
Jester, an all-time classic, designed by H.G. Hasler and built at Portsmouth in 1953 by H. Feltham.
Owners 1953-64 H.G. Hasler; 1964-88 M.W. Richey. Jester was lost at sea on 15 July 1988 in the course of her fourteenth transatlantic crossing.
Just after the war Blondie Hasler became increasingly dissatisfied with the way small ocean cruising boats were developing. He felt that ocean racing was a sport and that a cruising boat should be designed to lessen the skill and endurance required to sail. The outcome in practical terms was the yacht Jester, a modified 25ft Folkboat that Angus Primrose would say represented the only major advance in yacht design in our time. It's main designs included the central control hatch in place of a cockpit; a watchkeeping position with a rotatable dodger giving the helmsman protection and a self-steering gear.
Blondie was responsible for the first single-handed transatlantic race in 1960, which was won by Francis Chichester and there has been a Jester in each race ever since. The writer (Michael Richey) found from the beginning the boat a 'work of genius' that sailing her was effortless in almost every condition.
After Jester was lost at sea during the 1988 single-handed transatlantic race some 470 miles south-east of Halifax Nova Scotia a Trust was set up to build another Jester. Based on a specification prepared by Colin Mudie, the Aldeburgh Boatyard in Suffolk was commissioned to build a facsimile, albeit cold-moulded rather than planked and it was agreed that the boat's maiden cruise, would be the 1992 single-handed transatlantic race. Michael Richey was the oldest competitor in the race and in the smallest boat managed to better the majority of Jester's previous race times. She was exhibited at the Wooden Boat show in Newport in 1993 In1994 she embarked on a voyage of investigation of astronomical navigation introduced by the Portuguese to Madeira in the Azores, and returning to Plymouth. This voyage has been described in Yachting Monthly.
The Jester Trust was formed under the auspices of the International Sailing Craft Association to encourage the continued development of methods and techniques for short-handed sailing.
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