Why Offshore Sailing Regattas May Be Your Perfect Adventure

Think about being woken up by your alarm at 4am, crawling out of your sleeping bag, putting on layers of warm clothes, waterproof pants and jacket, a life jacket, and a head lamp, then climbing up onto deck and steering a fifty foot sailing yacht by way of the waves in absolute darkness, dozens or lots of of miles away from land. Your solely clues as to where you’re, are your navigation devices in front of you, and, in the event you’ve discovered find out how to interpret them, the celebs above you. Your job, as you’re on night time look ahead to the subsequent two hours with a buddy whereas everybody else is asleep, is to maintain the yacht getting in the correct path, watching out for obstacles (sure, in the pitch black), and take heed to the radio visitors. At dawn, your job can be accomplished, and you’ll get to wake up the subsequent watch, free to crawl back into your sleeping bag, or take pleasure in dawn with a cup of coffee, leaving the duty of watch obligation to the subsequent watch.

Feels like enjoyable? Then offshore crusing, and perhaps even offshore yacht racing, could also be your good type of journey travel. Learn on.

Navigational devices at daylight

John F. Kennedy as soon as explained to a gaggle of racing sailors, “all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”

I feel the quote could be very becoming. Sailing is a ravishing sport. You’re on the water, battling with and towards the elements. The moment you hoist the sails and the wind fills them, propelling you ahead and allowing you to turn off the motor (when you have one!), is all the time particular.

Sailing under Spinnaker at Sunset
That feeling if you’ve successfully hoisted the spinnaker sail and get to take pleasure in a stupendous sunset!

Offshore Sailing: In for the lengthy haul

Offshore sailing is, because the identify says, crusing off the shore, going distant from land. This sometimes means sailing in a single day to go lengthy distances. Here in the Mediterranean, we already contemplate it offshore crusing once we cross from the Spanish mainland to the Balearic islands, for example. But critical, “hardcore” offshore sailing can imply crossing oceans. Crossing the Atlantic, for instance, can take anyplace between 9 and 21 days depending in your boat and the place you cross (although the document is beneath four days!).

Whenever you’re that distant from land, isn’t just a sport, however a true journey. You’re far off the crushed monitor, and should cope with no matter mother nature throws at you, with no matter you have got on board. Zero wind? Gale pressure wind and high waves? Things breaking? Whatever challenge comes up, it’s as much as the crew to unravel them.

Offshore Sailing Adventure Cloudy Calm Sea
Close to zero wind, but an attractive sunset

I notably take pleasure in offshore crusing as along with the adventure it brings with it, additionally it is an entire escape and detox from everyday life. Nothing exists however the boat, the crew, and the ocean round you with occasional guests. This makes it straightforward to settle into life on board and adapt to a passage schedule, the place everyone is assigned watch obligation because the boat sails night time and day.

My favorite place on a boat is the bow – that’s the front of the boat – where I can spend hours simply feeling and watching the waves, feeling their pure rhythm and the best way the boat moves alongside. I’m not the only one who appears to like that. Dolphins typically join in, swimming alongside in front of the boat. It’s a lovely show of nature that undoubtedly beats any film. In the event you’re actually lucky, you’ll even get to do some whale watching.

Sailing with Dolphins

Regatta sailing: Lengthy distance boat racing

Racing in a sailing regatta just adds somewhat little bit of enjoyable to the combination: A competition factor that makes the solitude at sea a bit social and pushes the crew to tweak the sails one million alternative ways to attempt to go a tiny bit quicker. For me, I find it additionally helps hold me awake throughout night time watches, as I entertain myself by monitoring our rivals on the AIS (an automated identification system for close by boats) and figuring out who’s the place, and how briskly they’re going.

I sailed in the Ruta de la Sal from Barcelona to Ibiza last yr, and despite being a newbie sailor, was capable of finding a group who took me in a showed me the ropes. We met up at the starting port the night earlier than the race and acquired to know one another over a glass of cava and dinner. At a skipper’s meeting, the race organisers explained the route (straight to Ibiza!), the principles, and the meteorological forecast (no wind…). Our skipper defined the principles of our boat in an off-the-cuff group meeting, and after a night on board in port, we have been off the subsequent morning!

Sailing Regatta in Spain Ruta de la Sal
On the starting line of the Ruta de la Sal Offshore Sailing Regatta

The Ruta de la Sal is a fairly casual regatta, and while some boats take the racing very critical, most individuals take part just to have enjoyable and race towards pals, so the environment was fulfilling and it appeared to be just as a lot concerning the social events as concerning the racing. In the specific edition I joined, the wind was so low that there have been occasions through the night time that our boat velocity was nearly zero – we have been simply sitting in the water, in the midst of the Mediterranean, not shifting. Yacht racing, my pals, teaches you endurance as nicely. And if you’re on night time look ahead to the primary time, there’s nothing extra nerve wracking than realising your boat velocity is zero and you have an enormous business ship coming at you at 18 knots (18 miles per hour, which for boats is fairly quick), and you’re tiny and may’t move.

In the long run, we didn’t make it to the finish line underneath sail. You see, we had an necessary calculation we frequently updated: We had a reservation at a seashore restaurant for paella at 2pm for lunch on Saturday. On the point we have been projected to not reach our destination on time beneath sail, we abandoned the regatta and turned on the motor. Even sailors have priorities. And sure, the paella was value it.

Sailor food after the Regatta Paella
Seafood Paella! Well worth the “shame” of abandoning the regatta and turning on the motors (as a catamaran, we had the posh of getting two). Because of the lack of wind, many boats did the identical and ended up having to motor to Ibiza. We will’t control what nature throws at us!

Sailing boat on Sandy Beach in Ibiza
The view we enjoyed during our Paella lunch

Ibiza Town in Spain
Ibiza Town, the capital of this lovely little island in the Baleares, off the Japanese coast of Spain in the Mediterranean. Completely value a visit should you haven’t been yet! Attempt to go off season though, August will get a bit loopy. We have been there in April and it was good.

Discovering a crusing regatta & a ship to hitch

There are offshore sailing regattas everywhere in the world. Perhaps probably the most well-known one is the Volvo Ocean Race, which is presently racing across the globe. That’s reserved to execs and by invite solely. However many smaller races have novice sailors racing, and lots of also have a coaching category, where crusing faculties and charter corporations enter their boats and allow novices to hitch and give crusing a attempt.

You’ll be able to either do a search for sailing faculties in your area, and see what journeys they offer, or decide a regatta you’re considering, and try yachts which might be signed up & contact them. The Ruta de la Sal, for example, as well as all of the ANAM regattas in Catalunya, have a training category, so you’ll be able to easily see which boats belong to crusing faculties and are subsequently more likely to take on new college students for the expertise. A fast Google search for the identify of the skipper or the yacht will often lead you to the varsity and the complete details for the experience.

A lot of the well-known, huge races are more likely to appeal to a extra aggressive crowd, whereas smaller regattas are sometimes more relaxed. There are also “rallies”, that are more concerning the social aspect and getting from A to B collectively and focus less on the racing facet, or might not have a racing aspect in any respect.

Listed here are some regatta and rallies to look into:

Europe & Mediterranean:

Ruta de la Sal (Barcelona to Ibiza)
Center Sea Race (From Malta around Sicily and again to Malta)
Fastnet Race (Cowes in Southern England to Fastnet Rock in Ireland, and again to Plymouth in England)


Sydney to Hobart Race

North America:

Newport Bermuda Race
Baja Ha Ha ( San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Rally, no racing factor)

Around the World:
Clipper Round the World (Liverpool to Liverpool, very aggressive, boats are offered and spots are bought individually – at a quite high worth)

World ARC (Rally, not very aggressive. Additionally they organise other rallies, like the very well-known transatlantic “Atlantic Rally for Cruisers”, which I’m hoping to hitch some day quickly! Get in contact when you have an open spot in your boat for that…)

Issues to remember before you go sailing

While faculties will often inform you that no expertise is important, I might advocate that you simply spend no less than a couple of hours on a ship at sea (somewhere with waves!) earlier than you join a multi-day experience. Some individuals just get incredibly sea sick, and also you absolutely don’t need to find out you’re a type of individuals an hour right into a three day race. Both method though, do pack some sea sickness meds even for those who don’t usually get sea sick near the coast – offshore could also be totally different.

The Ruta de la Sal I joined had very calm circumstances, however I’ve additionally been out at sea with two meter waves and thirty knot winds, and that’s a very totally different story, so you need to have an concept of what to anticipate. Additionally, ask for a tour of the within of the boat. I typically describe it to newbies as being like “camping at sea”. The posh half is being at sea, which I contemplate a privilege. The boat, even if it’s a flowery catamaran (my weak spot…), isn’t going to be the type of luxurious you’re used to on land, so it’s greatest to avoid surprises and go into this journey understanding what to anticipate!

Do your analysis before becoming a member of a boat, especially in case you’re becoming a member of a personal boat quite than a faculty. Ideally, ask for recommendations, have a Skype chat with the skipper if attainable, and all the time trust your instincts. You can too find boats by way of web sites in search of crew, like Ocean Crew Link (specialises in offshore passage opportunities) or Discover a Crew (for basic crew opportunities, seems less regatta targeted). In the event you’re a lady, I additionally advocate the Ladies Who Sail Fb group both as a common useful resource and to seek out crusing opportunities.

Want to reside vicariously via others?

The Volvo Ocean Race Youtube channel and Facebook page are nice channels to get a style of the acute aspect of ocean sailing, watching seven teams of professional sailors race around the globe on 65 foot yachts. Each workforce has their very own on board reporter, they usually do a tremendous job at displaying what life on board is like.

So, is offshore crusing – or even racing – for you?