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Start Offshore Racing

1: Introduction

As well as the challenge of pitting yourself against the elements, and other crews, offshore racing offers opportunities for a degree of travel and to visit other places. Some owners, for instance, will choose an offshore as the starting point of a cruise, while for others it’s a chance to enjoy a meal in a French restaurant on a Saturday night before returning home the following day. Other races, however, are a long thrash around the buoys — the RORC Myth of Malham, for instance, is 245 miles from the Solent to the Eddystone Lighthouse (15 miles south of Plymouth) and back again. Many offshore races involve sailing hard through the night, and some are of several days’ duration. At the extreme are trans-ocean races, which may involve two or three weeks at sea — we’ll cover those in a later issue.

Those who race offshore need to be prepared for a wider variety of conditions than inshore racers are likely to encounter. While inshore races will be postponed in a calm, if the wind drops to 3- 4 knots for a few hours when offshore you continue racing. Similarly, as you’re sailing for a longer period when offshore, there’s an increased risk that you’ll meet heavy weather. When racing offshore we also meet a wider range of wind angles. Most inshore courses have true windward legs, followed by a run dead downwind. These courses can be set just before the start, to reflect current wind conditions.

However, when racing offshore you’ll find you may spend more time on white-sail reaches, or relatively tight spinnaker legs and will need to be able to trim for maximum speed at these wind angles. In addition, the boat will have a different motion in the taller, but longer, seas typically found in less sheltered areas.

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Night sailing can be a truly wonderful experience and holds enormous appeal for many people

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