Iconic motor yacht Virgin Atlantic Challenger II for sale
by Malcolm MacLean
The legendary 21.95 metre fast motor yacht Virgin Atlantic Challenger II has been listed for sale by Performance Boats in Ireland.
Commissioned by Virgin Atlantic airways boss Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II was built in aluminium by UK yard Lowestoft Boatyard and designed by Sony Levi with the sole intention of breaking the record of the historic Blue Riband transatlantic challenge. On June 29th 1986, she crossed the North Atlantic in a record time of three days, eight hours and 31 minutes, breaking the previous record by more than two hours.
However, he was denied the Blue Riband by the trustees of the award because he had broken two rules of the competition: he stopped to refuel and his vessel did not have a commercial maritime purpose.
Virgin Atlantic Challenger II was sold in the late 1980s, reportedly to a sultan and later to an English owner, and spent about seven years languishing in Mallorca until her present owner bought her for an undisclosed sum.
It has been been put on sale by her Plymouth owner two years after he rescued her from obscurity in Mallorca. Dan Stevens, who runs Plymouth firms Mount Batten Ferry and Seahawk Work Boats, invested £400,000 into a 2014 refit of the 30-year-old vessel. He said he hopes the powerboat will remain in the UK, but fears it may end up abroad.
“I’d like it to go to a nice home in the UK, an enthusiast or a museum, where it will be appreciated for what it has achieved.” Mr Stevens said. "I have made inquires around the UK, but nothing has emerged. So now it’s a more active campaign."
The interior sports the Virgin Airways cabin livery and upholstery and she is licensed to carry 12 passengers and two crew. Twin 2000hp turbo diesel MTU engines linked to surface drive propellers give her a maximum speed of 52 knots.
Lying in Ireland, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II is asking £725,000.