CHALLENGER     #2 Fairlie Launch in a series of 4

photos & detail ex Ken Ricketts, edited by Alan H.

Challenger, 38′ long, was built c.1962 by McGeady & originally powered by a 6 cyl Ford Diesel. She was built  for Mr Norm Fairlie, an Auckland businessman, who was a hugely dedicated & enthusiastic game fisherman, &  who mostly  fished at Mayor Island.

Challenger was the first of 2 boats built by McGeady for him in his Summer St Ponsonby premises,  the second being the 30 foot Tempest, a purpose built boat, he had McGeady build specifically for him, to fish for tuna, in the World Game Fishing Competition held in NZ in the 1960s. He won this competition with Tempest & sold he shortly afterwards. Sadly he never had any pics of her.

However Fairlie retained Challenger which he used, to fish in the “big game” section of the above event, in which he came second.

Fairlie kept Challenger until she was replaced by the 42 foot Commander One, which he had built by Alan Williams in 1967.

The story of her ownership is rather unusual.

Norm F. sold Challenger to a Mr Brown of Whangarei c1967 when Commander One was built, who later sold her to the Bradshaw family, of Rotorua.

Bradshaws later wanted to buy Commander One off Norm F. & he agreed to buy back Challenger off Bradshaws, as part payment for Commander One. Just after the deal was done, some people known to Bradshaws, heard about the Bradshaw’s deal & said they had always wanted to own Challenger, so rushed up to Auckland & bought her straight off Norm F., almost immediately after he had re-inherited her.

Ken lost contact with Challenger around this time, anyone able to shed some light on what happened to her & where she is now? In the photo above she is an impressive sight on her launch day in the early 1960’s, a launch that size does not disappear behind someones shed, so fingers crossed on more info.

Ken & ww appreciate the input from Norm Fairlie & John Bradshaw which has helped make this post possible.


Photo (c.1960’s) added 15-06-2015 ex Ken Ricketts ex B Worthington

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.11.45 AM

17-04-2016 I added the photos (ex Hylton Edmonds via Ken R) below only for the record – I will not comment on whats happened to her. If you must, click to enlarge.

31-05-2016 photos below ex Noel Kelly via Ken Ricketts (c.2000) No comment on the plywood dummy block of flats other than how could you get a peek at what it will look like & still do it?


12 thoughts on “Challenger

  1. Pingback: Challenger | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Hi,find enclosed photos of Challenger when my family owned her,she was based at Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds for some years before going to Nelson.I / we always,understood she was built in 1961,and had a 100hp Ford.We knew the 2x previous Rotorua owners .I have always had an interest in her where abouts,I tracked her down in Havelock,then the The ship broker in Nelson as you will see the broker kindly gave me this Photo.I may have further info/ photos.Hope this helps the new Owners of her.cheers Grant Parker/ Tauranga.

    On Wed, 21 Sep 2022, 4:55 pm #1 for classic wooden bo


  3. The 38ft ” Challenger built by Mc family owned it in Tauranga in the late 70s early 80s.AfterThe Bradshaw family / Rotorua,the Finn family from Rotorua owned it,My father Bert Parker from Rotorua purchased the Challenger from Ray Finn,When sold it then went to the Marlborough Sounds where an old couple lived on her for a number of years.The next owner was the owner of a trucking company in Nelson .He went bankrupt and she was sold again,the last I heard was she ended up North maybe Bay of Islands Opua area.Our family had some great memories,I have a couple of photos of ” Challenger ” in her former Glory with Varnished sides etc.Cheers Grant Parker


  4. Well researched Ken. It’s really great you have tracked down her current owner and have updates on work done.


    I have just had a phone call, (2.5.16), from the present owner, who is Noel Kelly of Whangarei. He tells me he has owned her for approximately 8 years, bought her off a bank which had foreclosed on her, in Nelson, where she had been on the hardstand at a haul out facility, for about 4 years. The previous owner been endeavouring to refurbish her apparently,& had recaulked her, & given the 6 cyl 80 hp Ford Diesel, (still the original Noel thinks), a full overhaul, but had obviously had serious financial difficulties.
    Noel tells me she was in a real mess when he got her & he has spent a lot of money refurbishing & upgrading her including the replacement of the old flying bridge was had riot in it, with the present structure.

    He launched her at Nelson, & sailed her up the West Coast, with a 10 day stop at New Plymouth, waiting for a suitable weather window, & then 2-3 days around the top, & down to Whangarei.
    He said the engine ran beautifully all the way up, & has never missed a beat, & still runs perfectly after all these years.
    He tells me that he has deteriorating health, & as much as he would love to keep her, thinks he may, in the near future, be forced to sell her, in the circumstances. —
    More pics & documents on the way. — KEN R


  6. Challenger WOW, this is an excellent addition. Well done Ken for sourcing this Spectacular pic. 😃


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