Sea History 103 - Winter 2002-2003

Page 32

The Spirit Atfantic


e by Cate Cronin

Atlantic Challenge boats from across Europe-France's Zou Mai, Denmark's Solid ari te and Ireland's Unite- tie up at a dock in Rockland, Maine. (All photos by George Hoyt unless otherwise noted) s the las t 38-foo t gig is loaded in to its shipping co nrainer, I no re rhar a Station Maine crew member is helping the Indonesian crew with this final project. I marvel at the co nnecti ons made during the two weeks of the Atlantic C hallenge Comest among the local team , the USA team, and the teams fro m nine orher nanons. For four years, the Atlantic C hall enge Foundation (ACF) foc used on bri nging th e Atlanti c C hal lenge Biennial Co nrests


Work progresses on an Atlantic Challenge Foundation boat at the Apprenticeshop. (ACF photo)



of Seamanship to Rockland , Maine. Begun in 1972, the Atlantic C hallenge Foundation is a non-profit educational instituti on whose mission is to develop the indivi dual and the communi ty through the experi ence of app renticeship and the practice of traditional skills. The program focuses on th ree elemenrs: the Rockport Apprenticeshop in Maine where students from aro und th e wo rld learn to build and repair fi ne wooden boats; the Communi ty Education Cenrer, which p rovides a yearro und opportu nity ro learn the art and skills of sailing and boarbuilding; and the Atlantic Challenge international program , which combines traditional boatbuilding with exciting co ntests of seamanship. T he contests, fo unded in 1986 by Lance Lee, were created ro foste r cul tural and global understanding, perso nal development through challenge, and education about our rich maritime heri tage. Lee and co fo under Bernard Cadoret of Douarnenez, F ranee, selected a French l 8th-cemury ship 's longboat as the primary educational vehicle of the program. T hey were used by Aeets in harbor and at sea for ship-ro-ship or ship-to-sh ore transport. T he lines were take n fro m a longboat captured fro m the invading French squadro n of 1796 off Bear Island in Bantry Bay, Ireland. T he 38-foo t Bantry Bay gigs are elega nt and fas t, bur they requi re serious effo rt and teamwo rk on rhe part of rheir yo ung crews. T hey are rowed with ten 18-foo r oars and also have three masts and sails (two dipping

lug sails and o ne standin g lug sa il ), which are kept down in the boar whi le rh e crew is rowing. A really good Atl antic Challenge crew can go fro m rowing ro sailing in about half a minu te. Each boat carries a crew of thirteen, who train together fo r months prior ro the co ntests and who have often built their vessel themselves . Lee Scarboro ugh, international trustee and di recro r of the Atlantic Challenge station on Cape Cod, reports that "with their long keels, rhe boats do not like ro turn. And so racki ng must be done just righ t, or the gig will fi nd itself go ing backwards in stays .... T h e gig's glaring weakness is its strength," fo r onl y through practice and teamwo rk can a rack be smartly completed . T he firs t two boats, Libertr!and Egalitt!, we re buil t at the Apprenticeshop at Rockport, Maine. Egalite was presented ro France as her entrant in the fi rst contest between the US and France in New Yo rk harbor in 1986 on rhe occasion of the Statue of Liberty's centennial. T he p rogram quickly grew and students from aro und rhe world went back home, often ro start sim ilar projects in their own communities, returning ro the contests with boats th ey had buil t and new students. Liberti and Egalite were soon joined by Mai ne's Felicite, Tacoma's Veritiand Ca pe Cod 's Loyaute, Russ ia's Enchante, and Britain 's l ntegrite and new Bien Trouvi. More th an forty of these gigs, yolles or longboats have been constructed around th e wo rld, from N 01-way ro Indonesia, and