What would be your ultimate sailing dream? Sarah Norbury has inspiration for sailing bucket list adventures

These days many high-achievers push themselves just as hard in their leisure time as they do in business – from taking part in punishing Alpine cycle events to triathlons and ultra marathons. So it’s no wonder that given a sabbatical, well-earned retirement, or major birthday, today’s work-hard, play-hard 40-, 50-, or 60-year-olds are seeking ever more exciting and challenging adventures.

Where once luxury holidays used to be aspirational, now it’s all about trips that offer unique experiences. Many companies offer amazing opportunities – everything from combining skiing and sailing in the Norwegian fjords, to kayaking in Patagonia from a luxury motoryacht.

There is a now a huge choice of places to go and things to do – we’ve picked out some of the most exciting options to whet your appetite.

  1. Sail across the Atlantic

Ask any sailor to name their dream and the answer is often the same: to sail across the Atlantic. It’s a rite of passage that conjures up images of surfing down rollers on an indigo sea, navigating by the stars, and days spent fishing over the stern.

More than 1,000 people cross the Atlantic every year from Gran Canaria to St Lucia as part of the ARC rally and around 200 of them do so by paying for an individual space on a boat. Many are boat owners themselves who have decided not to sail their own yacht across the pond, often due to lack of time.

As a paying passenger you can fly to Gran Canaria and leave almost straight away. The passage takes two or three weeks and most people add on a few days to enjoy the rum parties in St Lucia put on by organisers the World Cruising Club.

A berth in the ARC costs from £3,000 to more than £5,000. This could be your chance to sail anything from a former round-the-world racing yacht like a Global Challenge yacht through to a comfortable Swan, or a lighter performance racer. All have an experienced skipper and most a professional mate.


There are some truly spectacular options for sailing across the Atlantic. Photo: Another World Adventures

If cruising your way across the Atlantic doesn’t excite you then seek out a paying berth for the RORC Transatlantic Race leaving Lanzarote on 24 November this year to Grenada. Pro sailors race with and against amateur crews in a mixed fleet of pure racing designs and racer-cruisers.

Lucy Jones of Performance Yacht Charter says: “This year one of the boats we’re offering is a Marc Lombard 46, either as a bareboat, with a skipper or as individual berths. Last year we chartered her with a skipper to a Swedish group of seven friends in their 40s and 50s, at a point in their careers when they could take a bit more time off”.

You can enter almost any sailing race anywhere in the world by chartering either a whole boat or a single berth. If you dream of competing in the St Barth’s Bucket, the Sydney Hobart, the Newport Bermuda race or the Transpac, look on the event websites for charter options.

Racing an iconic classic sailing yacht in the Voiles de St Tropez regatta is less easy to achieve as an individual, but if you have a crew of friends and sufficient funds to charter a whole boat, even the most revered classics can be yours for a day, or a week.

Classic Charters have the J Class Shamrock V, with skipper, available for eight guests to race in the Med for €70,000 per week. The William Fife-designed Moonbeam IV could be your ride for €45,000 per week or, at the less pricy end of the scale, the 55ft Olin Stephens-designed Samarkand, taking six guests, costs €5,000 per week in low season or €3,000 a day for Mediterranean regatta racing.

  1. 1. Sail across the Atlantic
  2. 2. Sail around the world
  3. 3. High-latitude sailing
  4. 4. Sail off the beaten track
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