Virgin Atlantic Challenger II paintings and Richard Branson – Extra Info

Virgin Atlantic Challenge 2 as a print.

Virgin Atlantic Challenge II the original painting is 91 x 61 cm (36″ x 24″) available exclusively as a fine art print, the original painting having been sold top Sir Richard Branson.

Many distinguished people and renowned companies chose Frickers paintings as you can discover by reading my illustrated résumée.

Gordon Frickers is the only marine and maritime artist whose paintings have been honoured by a solo invitation to exhibit 35 paintings in the European Parliament (May 2011).

Virgin Atlantic II, Richard Branson’s second attempt was successful although he was not awarded the Hales Trophy.

The Artist Gordon Frickers produced a watercolour on the spot of his impression and completed the painting that evening during the press conference.
The painting was signed on the reverse by all the crew and is now available as a very rare collectors item, and within a week he produced this dashing oil painting for an exhibition in Plymouth.
Both Sir Richard Branson and Chay Blyth are clearly recognisable in the painting.

Later the oil painting was taken to London at the request of Richard Branson who subsequently bought the original, copyright remains with the artist.

Both Sir Richard Branson and Chay Blyth are clearly recognisable in the painting.

Richard Branson, now Sir Richard Branson narrowly succeeded on this his second attempt at the record for the fastest powered Atlantic crossing after problems with fuel filters that the Irish Navy managed to sort out for him.

His first boat sank.

To the Bishops Rock Lighthouse

At the invitation of Tamzin Mitchell of BBC Radio Cornwall and with the international press, we waited for 2 days at St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly.
While the press did what they do best while waiting, I produced 2 beautiful oil sketches of the port of St Mary, each a view looking into the other and happily I sold the paintings as a pair to friends who have a fine collection of paintings including 5 of mine in Brest, France).
Eventually I became one of the few present on the Fleet Street press boat on a choppy and squally evening as Virgin Challenger II passed the traditional finishing line at Bishops Rock Lighthouse.
Virgin Challenger II had made the (then) fastest powered Transatlantic crossing to date.
I Gordon Frickers was the only photographer who managed to get colour shots on that damp rough evening, a set of which are at their request in the National Maritime Museum archive at Greenwich, London.

I produced a watercolour that evening during the press conference of my impression.
It was signed on the reverse by all the crew (I still have it) and within a week I produced this dashing oil painting for an exhibition in Plymouth.
Both Sir Richard Branson and Chay Blyth are clearly recognisable in the painting.

Later the oil painting was taken to London at the request of Richard Branson who subsequently bought the original, copyright remains with the artist.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson considered the world wide publicity the 2 attempts generated more than paid for his tilt at the Atlantic record and the Hales Trophy for the Blue Ribband of the Atlantic Ocean.

Richard Branson effort was disappointed, something of a joke, a rich man’s indulgence and for Virgin, lots of good publicity.

The Blue Ribband is in fact only awarded to the ship that made the fastest commercial transatlantic crossing.

By comparison Virgin Atlantic II while a fine motor boat is really only a toy.

The two ships that held the Blue Ribband for longest were the Cunard express liner ‘Mauritania‘ featured on this web site, and the SS United States, the latter being built with the record very much in mind.
The award is based on average speed rather than shortest elapsed time because the transatlantic routes vary in length.

First Transatlantic powered crossing

The gallant paddle steamer Sirius made the first powered crossing of the Atlantic taking 19 days, often in bad weather from Queenstown (Cobh) to New York (see Sirius – and the Blue Ribband of the Atlantic ) narrowly beating ‘The Great Western‘ a ship designed and built by the renowned engineer, Isambard K. Brunel.

At that time commercial sailing ships race the North Atlantic usually taking 21 days.

The Cunard line “Mauretania” (we still have a few copies of the limited edition print of her maiden departure – see The Mauretania, Cunard Express Liner” ) held the award for longer than any other ship until the SS Unites States.

Virgin Atlantic II’s  Atlantic dash was a considerable achievement, however Branson was not given the converted “Blue Ribband of the Atlantic”, his boat being considered a ‘toy’ not a commercial ship.
That remained with the SS United States, to this day, still the fastest of commercial transatlantic liners, queens of the ocean.

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