The Marlow Ocean Challenge

By Tom Tripp
Marlow Ocean Challenge -- Source: Marlow Website

Marlow Ocean Challenge — Source: Marlow Website

David Marlow has a reputation in the industry for being. . . well, let’s say. . . outspoken. He believes strongly in the superiority of the boats he builds and isn’t afraid to name the names of competitors whom he feels don’t live up to their own marketing claims.  To say the least, he can stir up quite a conversation among boaters, brokers, builders and yes, bloggers. So it might not come as a surprise that he has a bold new challenge for his competition — an ocean crossing to prove, or discredit, range and performance claims made by a group of long-distance-cruising yacht builders.

Specifically, Marlow has issued a challenge to Grand Banks Yachts, Offshore Yachts, Fleming Yachts, Nordhavn Yachts, Selene Yachts, Ocean Alexander Yachts, Out Island Yachts, Outer Reef Yachts, and Kadey-Krogen Yachts. And here’s the challenge:

“The Ocean Challenge is open to all production yacht builders representing their products as long-distance passage makers. We challenge any and all of the above to join us in a epic voyage in the summer of 2010, from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Reykjavik, Iceland, non-stop, using only the advertised standard fuel capacity of currently offered vessels. Dependent upon chosen course, this voyage is as much as 3,500 miles offshore.

Alternatively, the challengers may opt for a shorter voyage from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Gibraltar. No stops in Bermuda or Azores are permitted. This voyage, dependent upon route, is around 2,700 miles offshore.

The first to arrive is the winner; though it can be clearly stated that all capable of either voyage are winners as well.”

Basically, Marlow thinks people have swallowed too much marketing hype involving range and performance capabilities and he wants to prove it by having builders demonstrate their performance. According to Marlow, “Though most companies in the offshore cruiser field advertise great capability to do long distance voyaging, factually few of them can in our opinion, unless they restrict their speed to a mind numbing, turtle-like pace of around 6 knots or so – little better than controlled drifting.”

“At the boat shows we routinely hear the claims of range at ten knots to cross the Atlantic for example on vessels of 60-75’ length. To be candid, we know better, as there is not another cruiser in this size sector, (other than Marlow) that can cross the Atlantic at ten knots. In fact very few can cross it at 6 knots and virtually none at 7,” Marlow says.

New Marlow Voyager 76LR Artist's Rendering

New Marlow Voyager 76LR Artist's Rendering

Marlow happens to have a new yacht to compete in this market — the Voyager 76LR, with a new hull design that is a little bit slower than the semi-displacement hulls of the Explorer series, but, according to Marlow, dramatically faster than the traditional, round-bilge full-displacement hulls of the competition.  We’ll have more on the Voyager 76LR in an upcoming article.

To-date, there don’t appear to be any takers for the challenge, but time will tell. If you have your own thoughts about the validity of this challenge, or the details, let us know in the comments.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Tom Tripp

Tom is the publisher of, a website about passagemaking boats and information. He is also a contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine who has been at sea aboard everything from a 17-foot homemade wooden fishing boat to a 1,000-foot-long, 96,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

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