Broad Street Wrington Web Archive
AZAB 2003
Saturday, 7th June, 2003
Wrington sailor, Gary Clements, a first-time competitor in the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club's Azores & Back Race, hopes to be e-mailing the website daily to give his current location and updates on his progress so we can all follow his adventure. Watch out for further details !
First, some background ...
The Origins of AZAB

The first British long-distance yacht race for solo sailors was the Single-handed Transatlantic Race which reputedly grew out of a half-crown wager and was first held in 1968. Just four yachts left Plymouth all of which reached New York safely.

The winner was Sir Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth II.
Sponsorship from The Observer and their news reports caused someone to coin the name Ostar a name that has stuck, much to the annoyance of subsequent sponsors. Since then the race has taken place every four years.

In 1981
the first two-handed transatlantic race was held and again around 1,000 yachts left Plymouth this time for Newport Rhode Island. However, for many yachtsmen, taking part in a transatlantic race is an impossible dream. Costs are high and three months or so are needed to prepare the boat, compete and then bring her home.

In 1972 Chris Smith wrote a letter to Yachting World magazine suggesting that a shorter solo ocean race should be held. As a result Andrew Bray, Spud Spedding and Colin Drummond met Chris to discuss setting up such a race. The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club agreed to host the British end.
The Azores archipelago was picked as an ideal destination - distant enough to provide a real challenge within a four to six week time-limit and to be pleasantly "foreign" on arrival, with a course clear of major shipping lanes. The first AZORES AND BACK RACE took place in 1975 with 52 starters.

With such a turnout, and so many competitors clamouring for a repeat event, it was decided to follow the lead of Ostar and hold AZAB at four yearly intervals.
The second race in 1979 accepted two-handed as well as single-handed entries, an obviously popular decision as in 1999 only about 1 yacht in 10 was sailed single-handed.

The course covers just less than 2,500 miles of ocean, approximately 1,220 on each leg. The majority of yachts usually take between 7 and 10 days to reach the AZORES allowing a week or so to relax and restock for the return passage.
The Start

The first leg of the Azores and back race left from Falmouth at 3pm on Saturday 7th June.

The Start Line ran between two transit poles on Pendennis Point and Black Rock. Yachts had to leave the First Turning Mark off Gyllyngvase Beach to port.

Probably the best viewpoints on the Falmouth side were either Pendennis Point or Pendennis Castle (both of which have good-sized car parks).

The starting cannons were fired from the latter by Julie Skentelbery of ITV South West. On the St Mawes side, St Anthony Head gave an excellent view, St Mawes Castle a more distant one.

Many yachts will be recognisable from their photographs, particularly the multihulls. The rules require all competitors to display their sail number on both sides of their mainsails and on the deck, and some will also have a number on their hulls.

Guns were fired to signify Warnings and Starts, with the Starting guns being considerably louder than the Warning guns - dog owners please note ! Crowds came to help wave the competitors on their way. Many of them won’t see another human being (other than their skipper or crew, if they have one) for well over a week!

Gary Clements (52) manages a furniture store is married with two adult boys and has been sailing 10 years. He has owned Coryphaena for 5 years and has cruised extensively to Channel ports.

His longest trip to date has been from Ardmore via St Kilda to the Faroe islands in John Ridgeway's EngJish Rose.This will be not only his first race but also his longest passage.
Chris Knowlton (40) is a member of RCYC and director of a flooring company who has been sailing since his teens. He competed in AZAB '95 on Pepikat.

Their self steering gave up on the first day out which made for a difficult and hard working passage. He has owned a J24 and a UFO31
photos of Coryphaena kindly supplied by Gary