Some helpful advice.


This article is written with the sole purpose of pointing potential competitors in the right direction in preparing to enter the AZAB 2015 race.
It will be of little help to experienced ocean racers or those who have done the race before, but it hopefully will be of use to those new to this sort of challenge.
The author has taken part in three previous AZAB’s and so knows some of the pitfalls. In no way does he ever wish to appear patronising and apologies to those who thinks he is being so!
The first thing to realise is that this is a serious undertaking; 2,400 nautical miles of ocean racing and for a large amount of time out of range of helicopters and major shipping lanes.
Have you got, or about to get, the right boat to undertake this task? Are you thinking of doing this two handed or singlehanded?
A good place to start with is the vessel herself. First of all read the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club race rules (The 2011 rules will give you a guide until the 2015 rules are published) and then go on line to the ISAF Rules of Sailing OSR Category 1 for monohulls. Read 2012 version but remember there may be some changes between now and 2015.
Read through these ISAF rules and highlight anything which will have to be updated or added to your yacht in order to qualify. For example, do you have an AIS transponder? Does your life raft qualify? Have you an orange storm jib? Have you wooden bungs at all through hull sea cock fittings?
You will now be in a position to know how much work and expense there is to bring your yacht up to speed.
I suspect that a few of you will drop out at this stage! However for those who are still aboard let us continue.
About yourself. Will you have an up to date First Aid qualification as per the rules? You will also have to have completed an offshore safety course within in the last 5 years prior to 2015. This is an extremely interesting 2 day course.
The yacht will have to have taken you and your crew, if two handed, on a 500 mile qualifier as per the RCYC rules. This can be done independently or by participating in the Fal 500 race in 2014.
If you are going to enter as a single hander, then give it thought. Single handed ocean racers don’t have much sympathy for others who haven’t done their homework. There are critics of single handed sailing and the experienced single handers don’t wish to give them ammunition.
For those of you who are doing it two handed, also be warned. On all three of the last races some crews have ended up not speaking to each other. Choose your companion carefully because you will live in a confined space with them for at least 2 weeks, often under stressful conditions!

Your IRC handicap for 2015 will have to be obtained and for those who have not raced their yacht before you will need to fill out various forms with measurements which can be confusing. It takes time and patience!
Provisioning and how much water to take etc. also needs to be thought about and it helps to keep notes on this subject during your qualifier as a guide.
For some the race will be expensive. The entry fee, the iridium sat phone, additional safety gear, a tracker device and all the courses add up. On a personal note, I never dared add up the cost, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken part!
The race has on no occasion, so far, had loss of life and there is a great deal of support from fellow competitors during the race. The Corinthian spirit still exists and serious ocean racers sail alongside those who are there just for the experience.
If there any questions that haven’t been covered then the race committee will be pleased to help but remember, we are all unpaid volunteers!
Good luck with your research and see you in Falmouth.