Saab UK Triumphs at Charity Defense Industry Sailing Regatta

(Image credit: The Reginald Fessenden Challenge)
A team from defense technology company Saab UK has won the Reginald Fessenden Challenge, an annual sailing event held in The Solent on the south coast of England, which raises awareness and money for two charities supporting ex-service personnel and their families.

Held on July 2–3, 16 teams representing leading defense contractors, equipment manufacturers, and supply chain companies competed in the event, which began with a charity auction on the eve of the regatta. Donated prizes included tickets for sporting events, a pair of diving watches, and most notably, a bottle of rum, which tradition dictates is bought and then immediately donated for the following year’s auction.

Now in its 13th year, the Reginald Fessenden Challenge, named after the pioneering Canadian radio and sonar inventor, has raised over £300,000 in donations to military charities supporting ex-service personnel, including The Not Forgotten and The Submarine Family.

Under overcast skies and gusty wind conditions, the 16-strong fleet of Beneteau Oceanis 37 yachts set sail from the Hamble, navigating the challenging waters of the Solent close to the Isle of Wight on a series of short, tight courses. Each team was comprised of experienced sailors, enthusiastic amateurs, and a professional skipper who provided valuable local knowledge of winds, tides, and tactics.

The four-race matched yacht format lent itself perfectly to close and competitive racing, with each crew vying for dominance across the start line and critical marker buoys. The event culminated in a spectacular finish in Race 4, with Saab UK’s team demonstrating exceptional strategy and teamwork to secure first place overall. Defense research organization QinetiQ and industry event organizers Clarion Defense rounded out the 2024 podium.

(Image credit: The Reginald Fessenden Challenge)

Celebrating their win and acceptance of the Reginald Fessenden Trophy, which they will now look after for the next 12 months, Chris Lade, Head of Marketing & Sales (Naval)at Saab UK, said: “The Saab UK team is thrilled to have won the Reginald Fessenden Challenge 2024. This event was not only an incredible opportunity to network but also allowed us to support two outstanding charities: The Not Forgotten and The Submarine Family. Both organizations do exceptional work in improving the lives of wounded service personnel, disabled veterans, and their families. We are proud to have contributed to such meaningful causes over the last 12 years and look forward to continuing our support in the future. A big thank you to all the organizers and all our fellow competitors.”

Colonel (Ret’d) Richard Walker OBE, Chief Executive of The Not Forgotten, said: “Yet again, we are honored and humbled by the level of support at this event—it is not only about the funds raised but also the network, the community and the shared delivery of impact in support of those who have served. This is of considerable mutual value. Those competing have contributed towards our bespoke support to over 10,000 wounded and sick veterans and serving personnel from all 3 Services and the Merchant Navy this year. Thank you all for underpinning our impact and social value—together, we are stronger.”

Event organizer, Captain (Ret’d) Tim Davies, expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support and participation, saying: “This year’s regatta has been a tremendous success, both in terms of the exciting competition and the generous contributions to our charities. The charity auction alone raised over £4,000. We are grateful to all the companies and participants who made this event possible, including our skippers, Britannia Corporate Sailing and Fairview Sailing. Congratulations to our 2024 winners, Saab UK. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year to once again compete for the prestigious title.”

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