The Azores and back race exists because 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 and all that was needed was a destination. The Azores archipelago was picked as an ideal end point – 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 left the UK in 1975 with 52 in the fleet at the starting line.
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.
Each participating yacht will have a YB tracker installed prior to the start, that will collect and transmit data at predetermined intervals throughout the race. This data is sent throught the Iridium satellite network to YB HQ, where it is visualised onto our race player for friends, family and race organisers to follow the entire fleet of just one yacht.
For more information please visit the race website.