Andrzej Kopytko, our Senior Software Developer, professionally associated with programming for over 15 years (with 4 of them at Solwit), has been sailing since he was a child. Andrzej is about to make an extraordinary attempt – one that requires courage, experience, and a lot of hard work (almost as much as a production deployment!). In just over a week, he will participate in the Jester Challenge regatta. Keep reading to find out why this is such a remarkable event.
Well, actually I have one for May, June, and July, to be exact 😊 That plan is to complete one of the toughest voyages in the world – the Jester Challenge. It’s a cruise in which I aim to sail 3,500 miles from the UK to the US. This will be my second attempt on this route; the first one, back in 2017, ended after approximately 700-800 miles due to rig failure (breaking the baby staysail on which the storm foresail was mounted). Since then, I have had some time to prepare for the next attempt. First of all, I changed the boat – last time I sailed an 11m Delphia, now I am sailing a 10m one, but much more powerful – Najad 34. Plus, of course, my preparation involved plenty of sailing and training.
On April 15th, I am boarding the yacht and sailing to Swinoujscie, and on April 30th, I am going directly from Amsterdam to the starting point, which is scheduled for May 8th, in Plymouth. After more than a month, I will reach Newport, about 140 miles from New York, and then there’s the return trip, of course. On the way back, a quick stop in the Azores, and then quickly back to work😉.
First of all, it’s very long – I’m assuming I will be able to sail 3500 miles within 5-6 weeks or so, without resting and getting ashore. Since it’s a solo voyage, there won’t be much in the way of support 😉 . And the most challenging thing is probably the wind – I optimistically assume that the majority of the route will be upwind – along with the temperature, which in the area of the Labrador current can drop several degrees. At this latitude, the weather system generates dangerous lows, which descend in such a way that when we sail from east to west, we go against the wind and the current, too. The last thing of such importance on the list are icebergs, which I really hope to avoid, as I plan to rather stick to the loxodrome, i.e., go below the shortest route. However, all will be clear once the start is made.
For the moment, 5 people, out of 13 registered, have confirmed their attendance.
It’s hard to say. If I say that it’s a lot, it might seem as if I am very experienced with it. In fact, I have been sailing since I was a kid. Of course, with some breaks – if only to organize my relationship, family, and domestic matters (for over a decade it was difficult to get away for longer trips), but I managed to come back right away on the Saltwater. I believe you need to have some charisma in you and the determination to cope with all the problems.
She believes in my responsible approach and proper preparation 😉 But in all seriousness, she supports me strongly and allows me to pursue my dreams. She even wrote about this on Facebook recently, so I can’t help but believe her.
Most of all, good winds! I am expecting at least 4-5 encounters with strong low-pressure systems bringing stormy winds, so, the fewer of them, the better for me and the yacht. Obviously, contact with me will be difficult – my press officer, Maciek (professionally a team leader, in private a great friend), will keep you posted on everything!
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