How to get offshore race ready: Dee Caffari offers her advice

Dee Caffari, veteran of six circumnavigations and the first woman to sail solo both ways around the world shares offshore race tips with Andy Rice

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This year’s Rolex Fastnet Race was breezier than many predicted, with challenging sea states. Photo: Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

Dee Caffari believes that getting ready for a big offshore race is a constant process. “It’s all about the preparation and I split my five top tips into three areas; the route, the boat, and the people,” she says.

When you’re building up towards a pinnacle event like the Rolex Fastnet Race, every Channel race and RORC offshore before then is a training opportunity, to identify the gaps in your armoury and to create a plan to fill those gaps. “A lot of this comes out in the debrief at the end of the race, although this is a crucial process that is often overlooked or skimmed over because you’ve just spent two days working really hard and are possibly feeling very tired,” explains Caffari.

“But the debrief is invaluable if you’re going to learn from things you did right. And of course, the things that you did wrong. It’s also really important to acknowledge the things that went really well for you so that you grow the confidence and you build on those activities.”

Dee develops cheatsheets for every scenario, as a quick-reference manual for things to remember in the heat of the moment. “It’s really good to have these cheatsheets to refer to when you’re tired and the pressure is on.”

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex Fastnet Race

Walk the course

This year’s Rolex Fastnet Race has a new route, but for any race you compete in, don’t just rely on past experience but actually go through the details of the course and plan your navigation well in advance.

You want to know where the Exclusion Zones are, where the hazards are, whether there are any firing ranges, or naval activity. And you want to know what the lights are if you pass them at night.

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