Easter week or sailing week?
The New Year is here and so are our resolutions and new sailing projects. The first consideration when mapping out our sailing calendar is often what to do in Easter week. For lots of people, these holidays provide the year’s first outing onto the sea. Many yachtsmen take this opportunity to sail in classic regattas such as the Ruta de la Sal, the Regata Ophiusa, or an array of nationwide or more localized events. At Nautic Ocean, for example, our idea is to sail around the island of Lanzarote on a fleet of yachts.
Whichever the case, this is a unique opportunity both for beginners looking to notch up experience and for experienced sailors with many a mile under their belts and keen to dig out their wetsuits and savour the sea air again…
You can take part in these regattas during easter sailing, even if you’re not a yacht owner, as there are a host of sailing charters companies that offer packages on a first-come, first-served basis. Prices tend to average between €400 and €500 and usually include registration fees, boat charter and skipper. Such regattas, which can feature a fair amount of boats, usually kick off with a welcome dinner on the Wednesday prior to the start date. First thing on the Thursday, there is a skippers’ briefing where race instructions and the latest weather forecasts are discussed.After sailing over 120 miles and once all yachts are perfectly moored at the destination port, all participants are invited to a prize-giving ceremony and dinner on the Saturday evening. On the Sunday, the boats head back to their home ports.
The Ruta de la Sal, a classic in the offshore racing world, is one of the Mediterranean’s largest nautical events when it comes to numbers. There are two itineraries: the Northern route setting out from Castelldefels (Barcelona), and the Eastern route leaving from Denia. The destination for both versions is Sant Antoni in Ibiza, with a distance of 140 and 120 miles respectively.Meanwhile, the Regata Ophiusa, a more recent yet fully-recognised race, will mark its eleventh edition in 2014. The route starts in the Catalan resort of Sitges and ends in the idyllic island of Formentera. This is a perfect chance to visit Formentera in its purest form, light years from the hustle and bustle found in August. In this event, contestants have an added tactical decision to make: whether to sail with the island of Ibiza to port or to starboard. The minimum distance is 161 miles.
A common denominator in all sailing events during Easter week is the unpredictable weather (not Lanzarote, of course). It goes almost without saying that either on the outward or the return leg, we’ll come across some inclement weather conditions. Of course, this is not a scientific fact, but in practice seems to be a recurring factor year after year.
These regattas are particularly attractive for recently-qualified sailors as they can make their debut in this world alongside experienced skippers who guarantee a thrilling adventure. The skipper designates functions to each crew member and establishes day and night watches. Experience is not necessary and each person’s sailing knowledge is taken into account.
Novice sailors have any doubts answered at a skippers’ briefing just before the regatta starts. They are able to put their recently-acquired meteorological knowledge into practice and discover the strategies to be used according to the weather, the boat, the crew’s experience and other external factors.
Whilst underway, and always under the skipper’s watchful eye, they will actively take part in maneuvers such as hoisting and lowering sails, reefing, tacking, jibing, plotting the course, reporting the boat’s position on the radio, listening to weather forecasts and also preparing food and drink for the watches.
Racing is not the be-all and end-all, of course, and not everyone has the spirit of competition running through their veins. Even though these regattas cannot be classified as extremely competitive, for almost all participants they do involve the excitement of competing and trying to outdo the other crews. Here I should mention what a good friend of mine and fellow sailor always says about this subject: “the only pressure I know of is to do with the beer I’m served in the bar after the race”.
In short, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy the open sea and sailing, including the chance of following a coastal route suggested by one of the charter companies in Spain and the islands. These charterers usually offer sailboat or catamaran outings with a view to experiencing sailing in a more relaxed atmosphere. Trips are also sold on a first-come, first-served or price-per-berth basis, including the charter of the boat and the skipper.
We should also bargain for pooled funds to cover other costs such as:
- Berthing fees if visiting other marinas.
- Food and drink
Easter sailing, these costs usually come to around €100/person.