History

Atlantic Challenge Ireland is a non profit maritime organisation based in Bantry Co. Cork, Ireland and is an associate member of Atlantic Challenge International.

Background

At sea , when you don`t know what to do and you have to find out quickly for yourself was the thought behind the founding of Atlantic Challenge International.

In the early eighties, French and American interests in providing training in maritime skills for young people concluded that running a sail training vessel like Asgard could cost up to €3000 per day. The idea was to provide the same intensity of learning and experience but in a traditional craft which small local organizations could afford.

Bernard Cadoret of France and lance Lee of America settled on a French boat, left behind in Bantry in1796, by the French invasion fleet as the ideal craft. This design was chosen because of its versatility under both oars and sail. This boat, now in the Irish National Museum at Collins barracks, Dublin was to be the model for future Atlantic Challenge boats and are usually called Bantry Bay Gigs.

The first boats were built in the USA and France in 1985. The next step was international competition and the actual Challenge came into being.

In 1986 only the US and France had teams for the inaugural Atlantic Challenge that took place in New York. In 1988 Ireland and Denmark entered the competition and since then more countries have joined every year building Bantry Bay longboats all over the world.

To date there are almost 70 boats built world wide!

The boats are traditionally built of timber to a very specific plan. Where possible modern synthetic materials are not used. They carry 3 masts and 10 oars and are all within a very exact tolerance of measurement. The international Gig design Committee has drawn up a well defined set of rules to ensure that all gigs taking part in Atlantic Challenge Contests are built to the plans that were taken from the original gig.

The Contest

The biennial Atlantic challenge is a contest of seamanship that tests crews abilities to sail and row these versatile longboats in different events and different conditions.