What kind of boat could you get for £725,000? A sleek GRP motoryacht perhaps, with a posh badge and a fridge full of bubbly? Or a bulbous Mediterranean people carrier covered in sunbathing spaces for your friends and family? That’s fine for most people, but if you’re the kind of boater who favours potency over posturing, you might want to take a look at a boat that’s currently for sale down in Plymouth.

Virgin Atlantic Challenger II

Sir Richard Branson's iconic ocean-crossing superboat is up for sale.


Originally commissioned in 1984 by Sir Richard Branson as a record-breaking transatlantic superboat, Virgin Atlantic Challenger II is now fully restored and ready to go to a good home. Designed by Soni Levy, built from aluminium and equipped with a pair of 2,000hp MTU V12 turbo-diesel engines, this 72-foot brute of a boat cost a cool £1.5 million when it was first built. In 1986, it went on to complete the crossing from America to the UK in a time of just 80 hours and 31 minutes, taking a massive two hours off the previous mark. In the event, it was denied official recognition because of a couple of technicalities, but it was a hell of an achievement – and after being rescued from decay in a Mallorca marina and treated to a full programme of restoration, she is once again at the peak of her powers.

The owner, Dan Stevens (boss of Seahawk Workboats), has lavished nearly half a million pounds on her repair and improvement and she is now fully coded for 12 crew and fitted out in the original Virgin Airways upholstery. With fewer than 1,000 hours on the engines, she is also capable of speeds approaching 50 knots in just about any kind of seas you care to show her. Of course, she’s distinctly lacking in some of the recreational niceties, like beds, cushions, TVs, cooking facilities and sun loungers. She would also cost you a fierce amount of money to run - but as one of the most famous transatlantic record breakers in the world and the only one still in commission, this magnificent 80s icon of endurance powerboating is about as cool as a used boat gets.

Virgin Atlantic Challenger II lying in Plymouth

Now lying in Plymouth, the restored Virgin Atlantic Challenger II can be yours for £725,000.


For more on high-performance powerboating, see the following items on boats.com: Powerboat P1 unveils 2015 race calendar or New outboard engines: Mercury Verado 350 and Verado 400R.

Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.