Since its inception in 1986, the Atlantic Challenge International Contest of Seamanship has been held in many different towns and cities within its member countries. The UK’s first contest was in France in 1992, and we have participated at every contest since, including as the host nation in 2004. Our gig Integrite has been the overall winner twice, in 2004 and in 2010. The next contest will be held in Northern Ireland in July 2018.
From 1992 until 2008 Integrite was crewed by young people from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. At the 2008 contest Northern Ireland successfully applied for full international membership of Atlantic Challenge, with a programme based around the community gig Harmonie that had been established at Antrim, on the shores of Lough Neagh. So, from 2010 onwards Integrite’s crew has been drawn from England, Scotland and Wales, competing as GB.
Throughout this time our crews have come from a wide range of backgrounds, including many people who had never been in a boat before, and many others who had. All have come together to help each other and to gain through their shared challenge and experience, both on and off the water.
Within the crews there has also been a strong tradition of continuity, with people taking part across many Contests, helping to ensure that knowledge is passed on to new crew members, rather than being lost between contests. Similarly, there is a common tradition of brothers and sisters competing alongside each other, or following in their elder siblings footsteps in later events. In some cases crew have been succeeded by their children, several years later.