Challenge, Rebuilding a 6-Meter with Jake Fennell. Page 3 Mast Image

Her Name is Challenge

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Challenge is a 37' long craft, built to the 6-meter rule. The 6-meter rule is a standard which boats in the class may be built with some flexibility in design. Its flexibility is described in a 28-page document of specific measurements, formulas, materials, and more to which must be adhered for it to qualify. Altogether, the boat is approximately 4.5 tons, half of that weight is in the lead keel. The hull is constructed from solid mahogany planks fastened to oak frames. If one were to mistakenly call them ribs, Michael may say, "Cows have ribs. Boats have frames."

As I wrote in the first paragraph of this article, some objects derive a soul from the care and effort of those involved in creating and maintaining them. This boat has been neglected; sat out of the water in back yards for 25 years before she arrived. She is still a vibrant character. I'm always thrilled to see the look on peoples' faces when I give a tour to a person who's seeing Challenge for the first time in person. The effect is usually that they can sense the soul of the boat, too. It may even be the case that in her current state, the soul is more exposed.

Cornelius Shields writes about Challenge in an autobiography, Racing with Cornelius Shields and the Masters:

“Of all the competitions I entered in the 1930's, the one I remember most vividly is the 1935 defense of the Seawanhaka Cup, or Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup for Small Yachts, to give its full title. It was among the most eagerly coveted international small-boat trophies in the world of sailing, and from 1895 to the mid-1950's was raced for by champions from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, and Finland…
In 1934, Paul decided to enter the trials that would produce a defender to race against the Norwegian challenger for the Sewanhaka Cup, and he commissioned A. E. Luders, Jr., to build a 6-meter, Challenge, for him. With two additional crew members aboard, we campaigned her through that summer, and sailed her as part of the American team, which successfully defended the British-American Cup. Then, after a rugged series of trials during the summer of 1935, we were selected to meet Norna IV, owned by Crown Prince Olav of Norway and sailed by a near-legendary figure in international yachting, Magnus Konow. The series was scheduled for mid-September, and the cup would go to the winner of three races out of a possible five.
I had never met Konow, but I'd heard a great deal about him. A tall, slender, powerful man, he was rated as Europe's finest helmsman, and he had sailed with particular brilliance in the Olympics.”

Challenge won 3 out of the 5 races to successfully defend the Cup.

My first views (on previous page) of Challenge shows her missing some planks. These planks (and more) were rotted, and needed replacing. We remove sections that are not adjacent to each other. While all 8 planks down from the top on the port side need replacing, we only have 4 removed at first. This way it is easier to maintain the shape of the hull.

Much deconstruction had happened before I arrived. The deck, cabin, cockpit, and many of the deck beams had been removed. The paint had been scraped off of the port side. And the top planks along nearly the entire boat had been removed. These interior views show some of the main action that started my involvement. Many of the frames were cracked, split, rotted, or otherwise showing a lack of integrity. With a circular saw, we cut them perpendicular to their length into small sections. After that, we chip out the small pieces with hammer and chisel.

Once the frames are out, the original brass screw fastenings are knocked out of the hull planks. It's a two person job that requires one person on the inside to hit them out with a hammer, and another person on the outside to hold a steel die plate to make sure that the screws don't chip or gouge out parts of the hull planks.

When the frames are fully removed and the planks cleaned, we applied a varnish where the frames belong. It is a sealing protection that those planks will need underneath the frames.

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