Challenge accepted

At 05.30 Thursday 8 June, Charlene Howard and her co-skipper Bobby Drummond on board the Jeanneau 42.5 sailboat, AJ Wanderlust was the first ever boat to have sailed in the Arctic circle during a Royal Western Yacht Club race or challenge.

11 June 2023


The Round Iceland Challenge was first introduced as an alternative to the OSTAR or TWOSTAR back at the beginning of COVID as a viable option for a 2800 + mile oceanic race which could be run under COVID conditions.

Starting and finishing in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park and rounding Iceland to Starboard, this has got to be the most demanding route of all Corinthian and arguably of all yacht races around the world.

Unfortunately, due to last minute issues with preparation, the original race was hit by a number of withdrawals which left just one entry who was sufficiently prepared to take on this ‘EVEREST’ of a course. So the challenge began.


Having started 13 May, the early part of their challenge was fraught with decisions that would map out their entire event.

A huge depression forced the Jeanneau 42.5, AJ Wanderlust to shelter at midnight 23 May which would last a number of days. On leaving their shelter of the Faroe Islands they were to head west into strong head winds which eventually got kinder as they approached the south-westerly tip of Iceland.

From there daylight got longer and temperatures dropped as they headed north.

Then as they rounded the North-west of Iceland the Ice became visible. In one of her daily reports, Charlene said, “The ice flow that was a novelty yesterday has morphed into a complex maze of nature. AJ Wanderlust has sailed north, east and south only to come upon pack ice and find our path blocked.”

With endless plots and a number of calls to local vessels monitoring the ice-flow, they finally appear to be on their way and are now at the Northern-most point of their course.

Charlene reported, “At a few minutes before 5 am BST this morning, AJ Wanderlust rounded the top mark of the Around Iceland Challenge.  Kolbeinsey Island is an isolated rock in the sea at 67 degrees, 09.599 minutes north and 18 degrees, 42.479 west. Being a rock which shows continuously above high water, it is our northernmost Icelandic waypoint.”

Follow them on the second half of their epic, record breaking journey here.

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