Q&A – Summer 2019

By Eric Smith | Shining Waters Marine

Should I Compete in an Offshore Race with my Boat?

Let me ask — why wouldn’t you? Which race you do is the skipper’s decision, but there are several options available. Check with your yacht club/marina and sailing associations to see which race would be right for you.

The important thing is that you do one. Here are a few reasons that stand out for me as reasons to participate:

  1. The personal challenge. From organizing crew to completing the race, in this new world of high-tech and busy schedules, taking time to accomplish a personal challenge seems to have taken a back seat to other “important” life matters. Pushing your limits is self-gratifying and the sense of accomplishment may help with your overall mind set when it comes to sailing.
  2. Getting your boat prepared. Since all offshore racing follows different categories/rules, this is a great way to be “forced” to get your boat ready for the race, but more importantly for extended cruising or day sailing. Simple things to set your boat up might be missed if you did not prepare your boat using the offshore racing rules.
  3. Seamanship skills. I see the sense of challenge and adventure of sailing and boating being lost in favour of always taking the easy path. If you have to sail up wind, the majority of the time the engine is turned on to make it easier, or there is a five-knot rule on your boat. Completing in an ocean race makes you focus on your boat, learning how it sails in different conditions, or using that sail you have never unfurled. All this helps improve your seamanship skills and ultimately gain confidence in your skills and your boat’s ability to sail home instead of calling for a tow when you lose an engine.

Bringing back that sense of adventure and taking time from our hectic lives has other benefits that will become evident after you complete an ocean race. You may even get hooked; making ocean racing a regular event in your calendar.

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