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Swift Drift 10-27-2011 04:17 PM

Challenger 40..... A good foundation?
Hi All,

I've been shopping boats for a little over six months and I've recently been turned on to the Challenger 40 for the following main reason:

1) Good headroom (I'm 6'4").
2) Appears to be a well built thick hand laid 1970's era fiberglass boat.
3) Significant bang for the buck.

I've looked at more modern boats in the 34-36 foot category that have all the bells and whistles. My thought is that If I do my homework and buy an older solid boat, i can ad bells and whistles (electronics to my liking, cushion covers, dodger, etc) as I go. On the other hand, buy the 34-36 foot boat, love it for 5 years or so, and end up wanting a bigger boat with more off shore capability, higher tankage capacity, heavier displacement etc.

Going to view a cahllenger 40 this weekend (Sloop) and likely flying somewhere in the next few weeks to view another one (ketch).

My intent is to use the boat for PNW cruising over the next few years as the boat and my schedule are upgraded to accomodate extended cruising. I currently own a 1989 Macregor 26D and a Nacra 5.2 Cat.... I sail both frequently. Have had experience sailing a 40' plus boat with similar dispacement to challenger 40 in the San Juans / Sound area.

I have turned over practically every stone I can on the web trying to find info not only on Challenger Yachts, but specifically the 40. Anyone have any knowledge to bestow on me? Any suggestions for other boats that I may want to throw in the mix? (budget not to exceed 45k....30k would be nice). How about someone to talk me out of all this craziness?

What say you??

sfchallenger 10-27-2011 05:56 PM

I absolutely love my Challenger 40', Elizabeth, which I've had for almost a year. They are really well built boats and I'm extremely happy with how she sails (I've had her moving over 10 knots flying the #3, Main, and Mizzen). Mine is a ketch rig, which I really like, although I'd be interested to check out the sloop. I had little experience with ketch rigs before I started looking at her and read a lot about ketches and yawls in the run up to buying her. I learned that there is a lot of hatred for the rig out there, I'm glad I didn't listen to the haters; I like it for the following reasons:

It's easy to reduce sail - over 30 knots of breeze I can fly my mizzen and headsail only and still move along just fine - and I'd argue with more control than a reefed main.

Splitting the sail plan makes the boat more trimmable for women or those small of stature.

Three sails looks cooler than two.

Mizzen tricks - you can use the mizzen for a lot of fun tricks your sloop friends don't know about.

That's my ketches are great bit, as to the Challenger, I think she has a lot to offer. A few things to watch out for -

The original mainmast step on some of these boats was a welded bridge that spans the bottom of the hull where the mast passes through the cabin sole. I saw photos of someones Challenger down in Central America that had badly corroded - this is in the foreward head so figure it might have had to do with use of the shower. Mine is stepped into a large (approx 12"x12") block that is glassed in to the hull - prefferential I think, don't know of it is original, I suspect it was done when the boat's standing rigging was redone. That would be something to look at if it is accessible.

A few other beefs I have - The wiring harness on mine left some things to be desired - it would have been nice if they'd followed colour-coding convention when they ran wires - also they were quite a few splices below the cabin sole - less than desirable.

The keel is really deep, under the engine, and is almost impossible to clear of standing water - let alone clean. I think they made Challengers in a full keel model as well that might be better for this (mine is a fin keel and has a six and a half foot draft).

Mine had some issues with secondary bonding - some tabbing had from the hull at the connections to the bulkheads. Not sure why - I fixed all that with epoxy after I bought the boat. Something to look at.

And the good:

Roomy, as you noted, nice headroom, solid layup (I think the hull is an inch think!), mine has a Perkins 4-107, which is a great little engine, generally well thought out systems, nice interior woodwork, etc.

I did what you're doing when I bought mine and got some nice testimonials from folks on here - one bloke said he'd take his anywhere - now that I've had mine for a year I'd agree with that too.


Swift Drift 10-27-2011 06:20 PM

Hey Hugh! Thanks for the info! I actually have read your posts about your challenger and had composed a PM to you prior to starting this thread but wasn't allowed to send due to my low post count!!!
I appreciate the feedback (especially the issues to watch for). Both boats I'm looking into are full keel. As for the sloop vs. ketch conversation, I think I'd be okay with either one and will choose the boat that is in the best overall condition. I am tempted to get into the sloop vs. ketch game, but at the end of the day, I think it would be alot of stress over nothing and there are more important items to evaluate.

I look forward to comparing notes with you in the futrure.....especially if I end up as an owner.


sfchallenger 10-27-2011 09:01 PM

Hi Tyler,

You can reach me at if you have any specific questions, I'm happy to help out a fellow potential Challenger owner. Best of luck in your search, hope you find the right boat for you!


Swift Drift 10-28-2011 01:33 AM

Sweet! Just sent you an e-mail.

SuzySailor 11-16-2011 06:33 PM

Swift, SFChallenger has given you lots of specifics, but just to chime in-- we sold our Challenger 40 ketch a year ago. She was a solidly built boat with lots of light in the interior, and a TON of storage space. She sailed very well. An excellent boat with a little-known name.

Swift Drift 11-16-2011 06:41 PM

Thanks Suzy! I just walked away from a full keeled ketch in Californina last week..... had too many things going on. I was sold on that set up and am now only able to locate a sloop rigged fin keel challenger 40. Was your ketch full or fin keeled?

SuzySailor 11-17-2011 07:51 AM

She is full keeled.

Captaindad 03-07-2012 11:53 AM

Re: Challenger 40..... A good foundation?
hi there, just to echo some things already said; she's a great sailing boat with a nice gentle motion, the head room is a huge plus (i'm just over 6ft), the engine access is great, the interior build quality is very well thought out, and the galley is highly livable. i have some original documentation including the owners' manual if you'd like to to see it. we've owned ours (family of 4) for about a year and love her more every time we take her out. she handles the sf bay like a pro and can keep up with much younger boats with no problem. she's a sloop rigged fin keeled craft that is capable of 35deg off weather when properly trimmed and can make 7-9 kts comfortably. i wouldn't hesitate to make a passage in her at all.

sfchallenger 03-07-2012 06:54 PM

Re: Challenger 40..... A good foundation?
Hey Captaindad,

I'd be interested in having a look at your documents, I have a Challenger 40' ketch rig. I'm in the sf bay too, so perhaps we could meet somewhere and I could photocopy if you don't have them in electronic format. Ping me here or e-mail me at hfield at matpelbuilders dot com if that could work.


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