We are very sad to report the loss of maritime expert and author Dag Pike, who ‘crossed the bar’ over the Bank Holiday weekend aged 88
He was perhaps best known for his record breaking Atlantic crossing with Sir Richard Branson and Sir Chay Blyth on Virgin Atlantic Challenger II in 1986.
It beat the previous trans-Atlantic speed record of 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes, which was set in 1952 by the American passenger liner United States.
Dag was the navigator onboard the successful 1986 attempt and was involved in the failed 1985 attempt, which saw Virgin Atlantic Challenger I sink just hours from the finish line at the Bishop Rock Lighthouse off the Isles of Scilly.
Sir Chay said Dag’s navigation skills during the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II record attempt stood out.
‘Our hearts only jumped once with his navigation! As we were getting close to the Isles of Scilly, we picked up the Racon Beacon on our navigation instruments, it was a big sigh of relief. It was short lived, as we closed the islands, the Racon went off the screen! Our immediate thoughts were that the nav systems had gone down! However, a few minutes later the nav instruments fired up and the beacon was on the screen flashing away. Dag had delivered on a job very well done,’ said Sir Chay.
Dag participated in several long distance record attempts including six Atlantic record attempts, and was involved in the design of cockpits and dashboards for high speed boats.
In 1964 he was involved in designing and building the first RIB.
One of four brothers, Dag Pike was born in Surrey and brought up in Tattenham Way near Banstead.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was evacuated to Cadgwith in Cornwall, where he fell in love with the sea, which became the focus of his life.
By the age of 16 he was sailing on tramp ships and experienced his first shipwreck two years later off the west coast of Scotland aboard a 6,000 tonne cargo ship.
The crew missed the vital Skerryvore Lighthouse and ended up on the rocks between Tiree and Coll on a pitch-black night.
In total, he was rescued from sea 13 times – including during another Atlantic record attempt in 1989 aboard Peter Phillips’ 80ft catamaran Chaffoteaux Challenger.
‘It’s not a record I’m particularly proud of but when you try to push the boundaries of what seems possible, you don’t know where the limits are until you find them. When I first went to sea in 1950, navigation was still basic and the risks were considerably higher. However, I am still alive after being rescued 13 times so I must be doing something right,’ Dag once commented on his rescues.
By Katy Stickland Yachting Monthly