Rory and Cookie finish Jester Challenge

Home News Rory and Cookie finish Jester Challenge
By James Wharram

In the early hours of Saturday 26th June Rory sailed his Tiki 21 ‘Cooking Fat’ into Newport, Rhode Harbour, finishing second in the Jester Challenge, just 2.5 hours after the Russian 25ft yacht ‘The Grand’, having sailed in 34 days from Plymouth, UK.

In this office it was joy and Laphroaig whiskey all round.

Congratulations Rory, you have done magnificently!

Rory on Cooking Fat
Photo Credit: Mary Beth Pike
Rory on Cooking Fat at nightfall in a harbour
Photo Credit: Dave De La Cour

On Monday morning we received the Summer Issue of Yachting Monthly in the post. Here are their headline descriptions of the Jester Challenge:

“Solo Transatlantic, Corinthian Sailing Heroes”

“There is no sponsor, no entrance fee, no rules, no time limit and no safety inspections.”

“The Jester Challenge is the 'Everest of amateur sailing'.”

In the article Andrew Brook writes about some of the Challenge entrants, here is how he describes Rory’s Tiki 21:

“Rory McDougall’s wooden 21ft Wharram Tiki catamaran, Cooking Fat, the only multihull in the event, looked more like two coffins with some netting strung between them. Yet Rory entered the Guiness Book of Records in 1997 when he sailed around the world in her – the smallest catamaran to circumnavigate the planet.”

"Like two coffins with some netting strung between!!! It just shows you, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

Tiki 21 sailing

Back in 1982 the new and then quite radical Tiki 21 design was given first prize by Cruising World magazine (USA) in their design competition for a ‘Trailable Gunkholer’. Since then, 925 Tiki 21 Plans have been sold.

A couple of days ago we heard from Cruising World, who are conveniently based in Rhode Island, that they were chasing around finding photographer and reporter to record the finish of ‘their’ 1982 Prize Winning design.

I could not be at the start of the Jester Challenge as I had just had a knee replacement operation. From my armchair I was quietly confident in Rory’s planned voyage. I knew Rory knew what he was doing and the boat would look after him, simple as that.

Rory must have had a more ambitious idea. He must have said to ‘Cookie’: “We have done the ‘Ocean survival course’, now let’s see how fast we can sail.” We will never know how ‘Cookie’ answered - we just know the result.

Rory on Cookie
Rory on Cookie
Cookie at the start of the Challenge

After a short rest Rory is planning to sail Cookie back to the UK. This voyage will be the same route I sailed with Ruth and Jutta on Rongo in 1959, Rory will be doing it alone and on the smallest catamaran, brave man.

Take care Rory, our thoughts will be with you. We look forward to welcoming you home.

Read all about Rory & Cookie's Jester Challenge at:

And do not forget to make your donation to the Sir Francis Chichester Trust:

The Sir Francis Chichester Trust supports disadvantaged young people from Devon to attend Outward Bound personal development courses.

- James Wharram