How much sailing experience do I need?
It depends on the race. For most yacht racing events the training we provide as part of the campaign is sufficient. If you have a sense of adventure and are in good health with an average fitness level then we want you on our team! Our instructors and race skippers are experienced in training novice crew and ensure that everyone onboard gets great coaching and the chance to build their sailing skills– whatever sailing background they come from. Some tougher offshore races have special entry requirements, but even so we don’t usually turn people away. We assess the crew as a whole and usually we have a good mix of experience, skill and talent across the board.
What safety gear is onboard?
Safety, fun and winning. That is the order of business at PYRUSA. For offshore, we have two life rafts, jack lines, tethers and ocean PFDs with spray hoods; a sat phone, EPERB, AIS and various day and night Type IV PFDs. While you may elect to bring your own PFD it is not necessary. The wearing of PFDs is not required while racing except after twilight. No barefeet or sandals when racing, please. Also, sunscreen is highly recommended.
Who else is on the crew?
Each yacht is skippered by a licensed captain with race experience and sailing experience relevant to the event (for example ARC skippers have ocean race experience) the skippers are usually backed up by a First Mate of at least Yachtmaster standard. Other sailing crew members come from all walks of life, they are all ages and have different levels of sailing experience. We typically get an even mix of men and women, and more often than not a great mix of nationalities, from French, German and Italian to Russians, Canadians, Aussies and South Americans.
Do you offer any Qualifications?
We offer ASA qualifications through our partnership with Blue Water Sailing School. Most of our adventure sailing passages allow you to achieve your ASA 106 Advanced Costal Cruising and 105 Coastal Navigation rating. You may also log miles towards your ASA 107 Passage-making pre qualification.
For sailors with ASA 106, we offer Spinnaker Endorsement. This is a one-day clinic in which we exercise hoists, gybes and drops with an asymmetrical. Wind conditions must be below 15 knots for this course to go forward and we require a minimum of four students. You’ll be joined by two instructors and two experienced crew for this, as spinnakers on a boat of this size require some expertise to fly safely.
What does the price include?
Our prices include: the boat and running expenses, provisions, soft beverages, all race fees, dockage, customs and immigration fees (if any). Not included are restaurant dinners or any other meals eaten off the boat, adult beverages, any expenses incurred off the boat, rooms ashore and skipper’s gratuity.
Are flights and transport included?
Generally not. You need to make your own way to us. This may involve bus or taxi rides to and from airports. We usually try to ensure that once on location, the yachts are conveniently placed for the accommodation, and that we are close to the organizing clubs and social centers.
Do I need insurance?
It is part of our terms and conditions that you have insurance that covers you for racing, medical issues, loss or theft of possessions and cancellation cover.
What happens if I have to pull out of the event?
If you have to pull out of racing due to illness, work commitments or other reason you may lose your deposit if you cancel before 90 days to the start. Within ninety days of the start date you could end up losing the entire race fee, which is why good holiday insurance with cancellation cover is a must. Performance Yacht Racing USA may be able to place you on an alternative race package at our discretion but this cannot be guaranteed.
What if I get motion sickness?
The night before you sail, avoid greasy foods and excess alcohol and get plenty of rest. Often seasickness can be avoided by keeping your head up, looking at the horizon, keeping air in your face and staying active. We normally recommend avoiding medications that cause drowsiness. You can try ginger pills, wrist bands or even patches behind your ears (normally prescribed by a doctor.) If you do opt for over the counter medications please take your choice at least two hours prior to boarding the boat to give the medication time to take effect. There is a varied amount of medication to quell motion sickness. Please consult with your doctor for suggestions. Or as Nelson suggested, a sure cure is sitting under a tree.
How much should I tip the skipper/instructor?
As always, a gratuity is at your discretion. However, it is standard practice in the industry to pay a gratuity to your skipper/instructor. Like the restaurant industry, tips make up a substantial portion of a skipper/instructor’s income. A typical tip would range between 15% – 20% of your racing or course fee. This is split between skipper and crew when professional crew are along.
What happens if the weather turns bad?
When it rains, we sail. If it’s blowing hard, we reef. Due to the nature of sailing and the weather, we do not cancel sails nor are we able to provide refunds for unpleasant weather. Naturally, if a race is cancelled due to inclement weather we make arrangements for a full or partial refund. However, if a race is called due to light or no wind, we can not offer refunds. Race committees usually do their best to get a race off when they can. Unfortunately the wind does not always cooperate. Please check the weather for your race and bring appropriate fowl weather gear. And remember, it’s 10 degrees cooler on the water, so layer, layer, layer.
May I bring adult beverages?
Yes and no. When we are off docks we are a dry boat. Racing requires focus, coordination and stamina, not to mention safety. So all crew are expected to be sharp, sober and rested before each trip off docks. That said, after sailing and once the yacht is clean and made ready for the next race, cocktails are not unheard of. (See sponsor of our black spinnaker for more details!)