When to go
To help you to choose the perfect time for your sailing adventure, we’ve compiled a list of the best times to sail in each area and a calendar of the premier racing events.
The Americas August to September
Antarctica October to May
Arctic July to October
Australia December to April
The Bahamas and Caribbean December to April
Baltic Sea Region June to August East
East Mediterranean May to October
West Mediterranean April to September
Western Europe May to September
Indian Ocean January to April
Asia January to April
South Pacific April to August
Atlantic Ocean Crossings
Westward-passage via the Canaries - November and December.
Eastward - mid-May to mid-August
Pacific Ocean Crossings
America to Marquesas - March-April. Via the Galapagos March-April. Via Easter Island & Pitcairn, depart Galapagos from January and February.
EUROPEAN YACHT RACING
RORC Morgan Cup Race - June
The Morgan Cup is one of the RORC’s annual cross channel races. The event is unusual in that competitors can never fully know what to expect before the start because the race committee has a choice of four different courses and does not make a final decision on which one will they will set until a few minutes before the race start.
Rolex Giraglia Cup - June
The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised by the Yacht Club Italiano and the Societe Nautique de Saint-Tropez, and comprises of three days inshore racing in the bay of Saint-Tropez followed by a 243 nautical mile offshore race. This well renowned offshore yacht race is more than 50 years old and has been won by some of the most famous racing yachts of the last half century. This is a perfect race for anyone looking for a new offshore adventure, or anyone wanting to try an offshore race for the first time.
Round Ireland Race - June
The Round Ireland Yacht Race is Ireland’s premier offshore sailing race and is held every two years by Wicklow Sailing Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The 704 nautical mile race was first held in 1980 and still retains the original course; “leave Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard.”
The Round Ireland continues to be a big race run by a small club and for the competitors who return again and again, this is what makes the event so special. The warm greeting and round the clock bar service when returning to Wicklow bring competitors back to the race year after year.
Round the Island Race - June
The Round the Island Race is organised annually by the Island Sailing Club and is one of the largest yacht races in the world regularly attracting over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors. Competitors travel from all across the UK and Europe for the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of White.
Cowes Dinard Race - July
The Cowes Dinard Race is one of the oldest races in the RORC Calendar and one of the most popular cross channel races in the calendar as it coincides with Bastille Day in St Malo. Starting on Friday lunchtime on the Yacht Squadron Line and finishing just outside the historic town of St Malo’s the course takes you out the solent to west past the needles around the channel islands and and finish just off the impressive ramparts of St Malo’s old town.
RORC Channel Race - July
The RORC Channel Race is a fast race around buoys up and down the English Channel. The course changes year on year, but always starts on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line and finishes in the Solent. This is traditionally the last chance to qualify for the Rolex Fastnet Race in applicable years, however it remains a tactical and high paced offshore race every year.
Cowes Week - August
Since 1826 Cowes Week has played a key part in the British sporting summer calendar and is one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events. It now stages up to 40 daily races for around 1,000 boats and is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world.
Rolex Fastnet Race - August
Since it began in 1925, the Rolex Fastnet Race has grown to become one of ocean racing’s greatest events and along with the Rolex Sydney to Hobart and the Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the top three offshore races in the world and features the world’s largest, most diverse fleet of offshore racing yachts.
The Rolex Fastnet Race takes competitors across 600+ Miles and up to five days battling the wind and tricky tidal conditions to round the Fastnet Rock on the Southern tip of Ireland. Three hundred yachts take part in the bi-annual Fastnet Yacht Race. Fastnet competitors head west down the Solent and out through the Needles, past the major south coast headlands, Anvil Point, Portland Bill, Start Point, and Lands End before rounding the famous Fastnet rock and returning via the Scilly Isles before finishing at Plymouth. Participants are required to complete RORC qualifying passages and the ISAF Sea Safety course.
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland - August
Only held every 4 years this is one of the true tests of racing yachtsmen, the 1,802 nautical mile non-stop race starting from Cowes, Isle of Wight and taking in all the beautiful coastline that the UK has to offer and some of the most tactical racing of any Offshore race.
Usually the race runs clockwise from Cowes up the Irish Coast and then around Muckle Flugga, the most Northerly point of the Shetlands before coming back around the East coast of Britain to Cowes.Taking in all the beautiful coastline that the UK has to offer and some of the most tactical racing of any Offshore race.
Rolex Swan Cup – Nautor Swan’s 50th anniversary - September
Swans from around the world gather in Sardinia for the biennial Rolex Swan Cup at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) in Porto Cervo.
With up to 100 Swans taking part, this week long regatta transforms Porto Cervo into the centre of the Club Swan world. Drawing some of the most beautiful Swan yachts and many of the world’s top sailors, the Rolex Swan Cup provides a week of spirited racing and gala social events for which Nautor’s Swan, Rolex and YCCS are renowned.
Rolex Middle Sea Race - October
The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a classic offshore race growing in popularity every year, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Sydney – Hobart as a “must do” race. The 606nm course is set in the heart of the Mediterranean and covers one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The race starts in Malta and heads for the Straits of Messina before circumnavigating Sicily, passing the breathtaking islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa before returning back to Malta for the finish. The Rolex Middle Sea Race even features Stromboli's active volcano as a course mark!
Les Voiles de St Tropez - September
Les Voiles de Saint Tropez is an amazing rendezvous of yachts. First run over 35 years ago as La Nioulargue, the regatta gathers together the most extraordinary collection of yachts, from the ultra modern to the most beautiful traditional yachts including the amazing J Class.
ARC – Atlantic Rally for Cruisers - November
The ARC is an annual Transatlantic rally from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and finishes in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. The 2,700 nautical mile passage on the North East tradewind is a safe and enjoyable way to sail across the Atlantic. With more than 200 boats participating in this event, the rally is characterised by a tremendous camaraderie between all those taking part. When you set of you head South West until the butter melts then turn right and point at the Caribbean with the crossing taking 15 to 18 days.
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series - January
The Round Barbados Race has grown into 3 events offering something for all sailors and includes yachts from around the world ranging from windsurfers, J/24’s, all the way up to 180’ schooners. The Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race Series is one of the classics on the Caribbean circuit and offers a heady mix of inshore racing, the tactically tricky headline event Round Barbados Race, the Ocean Passage Race to Antigua and onshore festivities.
Grenada Sailing Week - January
Grenada Sailing Week is the first regatta in the Caribbean season and is growing year on year. Grenada is the most southerly island in the Windward and Leeward island chain. With idyllic sailing conditions, a challenging variety of shorter up/down around the buoys and longer reaching coastal courses Grenada Sailing Week offers something for everyone.
Jolly Harbour Valentines Regatta - February
The Jolly Harbour Valentine’s Regatta is three days of fun racing based at the Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua. This regatta is a great warm up to the Caribbean season, and is suitable for all levels of sailors with a great party scene. A great and inexpensive regatta to cut your teeth on.
RORC Caribbean 600 - February
The RORC Caribbean 600 is the only offshore race of the Caribbean series, and takes you on a fantastic journey, circumnavigating the Caribbean Islands.
This race has already become a firm favourite, with many well known and glamorous sailing yachts competing - creating an awe-inspiring startline scene.
Starting from and finishing in Antigua, the route zig-zags around 11 Caribbean Islands including Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth's before looping around St Maartin and heading south around Guadeloupe and its notorious wind-shadow.
The total route is 605nm and the figure-of-8 loop creates eleven legs, keeping it interesting for crew and navigators alike!
With tropical islands, sunshine and shorts, warm seas and steady trade winds, the Caribbean is an offshore racing paradise. With tactical gains to be made from both winds and currents and the annual dilemma of how to tackle the wind shadow off Guadeloupe, there is plenty of excitement throughout the race.
Heineken St Maarten Regatta – March
The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the largest regatta in the Caribbean calendar. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has a reputation as a must do event. Combining first-rate sailing and amazing parties, the event lives up to its slogan ‘Serious Fun’!
The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is open to all types of sailors from professional teams to friends on holiday for the event
St Thomas International Regatta - March
The St Thomas International Rolex Regatta is a crown jewel in the Caribbean racing season, offering sailors from around the world three days of unparalleled racing. The courses weave through the picturesque cuts and cays of the U.S. Virgins. Lively, friendly with great sailing and not so big you get lost in the crowds.
BVI Spring Regatta - March
This regatta has become one of the Caribbean's premier yacht races with a reputation for serious competition and serious partying. The week long BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival takes you throughout the beautiful British Virgin Islands. Starting at Nanny Cay the Sailing Festival races up the Sir Frances Drake Channel to the renowned Bitter End Yacht Club. After the warm up festival, the BVI Spring Regatta kicks off three days of some of the best racing in the Caribbean.
Les Voiles de St Barth - April
St Barth is possibly the most chic island in the Caribbean. The regatta was founded in 2010 and is growing in popularity every year. Les Voiles de St Barth is an amazing rendezvous of yachts and hundreds of sailors from around the world all gather for one week of competition and fun.
Antigua Sailing Week - April
Antigua Sailing Week is one of the premier sailing events in the world and is the major regatta of the Caribbean season and one of the top five regattas in the world. With a justified reputation of being the hardest sailing/socializing regatta of the season Antigua Sailing Week consists of six challenging days of top class racing in, what are regarded as, the best sailing conditions in the World.
Rolex Swan Cup – Virgin Gorda - March
This week long regatta transforms Virgin Gorda into the centre of the Nautor’s Swan world. Drawing some of the most beautiful Swan yachts and many of the world’s top sailors, the Rolex Swan Cup provides a week of the spirited racing and gala social events for which Nautor’s Swan, Rolex and YCCS are renowned.