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Packed prize-giving for the Red Ensign AZAB Race 2015

by Audrey Stevens 6 Oct 2015 20:36 BST 12 September 2015
Boats on the start line in the Azores during the Red Ensign AZAB © AZAB

The Red Ensign AZAB (Azores and Back) Race prize-giving took place at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club on Saturday, 12th September. The event had a record attendance, with competitors and supporters travelling from as far afield as France, Holland and Germany to join in the celebrations. The race took place in June of this year.

Prizes were presented by Simon Carter, a Director of Red Ensign Marine who were the title sponsors of the race.

Simon competed in the race aboard the Rustler 42 'Winchat' with owner Peter Harvey, winning class 3 on the outward leg to the Azores.

British boat 'Just Plain Krazy', skippered by Stephen Hills & Ian Knight, took overall honours for best corrected time over both legs, followed in second place by Dutch father and son team Nico & Frans Budel on 'Sec Hayai'. Third place went to the British Open 40 'Cariberia', skippered by Stephen Card & Peter Card.

'Croix du Sud', skippered single-handed by Henrik Masekowitz of Germany, smashed all records for the fastest leg ever from Falmouth to Ponta Delgada, making the trip in 5 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes.

The John & Sally May Trophy for the boat considered to have made the greatest contribution to the Corinthian Spirit of the race went to 'Change of Course', skippered by Keith Gibbs & Janet Sainsbury. This award was agreed unanimously by the competitors themselves and was a fitting tribute to Janet, who died in a tragic boating accident this August at the age of 73, shortly after completing the AZAB. She had sailed about 40,000 miles during her lifetime and was described by her local sailing club's Commodore as "One of our club's great characters".

The youngest competitor was 16-year-old Lucy Campbell who competed double-handed with her father, Colin, on the Warrior 40 'Zulu Warrior'. Lucy contributed significantly to the race by helping with the 'Red Ensign AZAB for Kids' schools project, which engaged with 10 primary schools in the Falmouth area in Cornwall. The aim of the schools project was to teach children about the sailing, wildlife and geographical experiences that the competitors would expect during the race, and gave the school children an opportunity to 'adopt' and follow a boat during the race.

The next AZAB race will take place in June 2019.

About the AZAB

A classic Corinthian race organised every four years since 1975 by Royal Cornwall Yacht Club Events Ltd, for single and double-handed crews.

The 2015 race saw 69 entrants. The race covers approximately 2500 miles – 1220 miles on each leg – and is a single or double-handed race from Falmouth, Cornwall to Ponta Delgada in the Azores and back again.

For more information visit

AZAB History

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 news from the Observer newspaper 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 100 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 with 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 one yacht in 10 was sailed single-handed. The course covers just less than 2500 miles of ocean, approximately 1220 miles 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 race attracted its first title sponsor for 2015. Red Ensign Marine, a well-established international yacht broker specializing in offshore craft. The race became known as The Red Ensign Azores and Back Race for the 2015 race.

The race is for single/two-handed yachts and occurs every 4 years with the next event in 2019.

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