Rival Owners Association


A brief history of the Azores and Back (AZAB) and Rival entries

The first British long-distance yacht race for solo sailors was the Single-handed Transatlantic Race which reputedly grew out of a half-crown wager and was first held in 1968. Just four yachts left Plymouth, all of which reached New York safely. The winner was Sir Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth II.

Sponsorship from the Observer and news from that paper resulted in the name OSTAR being coined. This has stuck, much to the irritation of subsequent sponsors. Since then the race has taken place every four years, with 1981 seeing the first two-handed event. Around 100 yachts left Plymouth, this time for Newport Rhode Island.

However, 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. Following this, editor Andrew Bray met with the late Spud Spedding, and Colin Drummond of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, with the result that the RCYC agreed to host the British end. The Azores archipelago was picked as an ideal destination – distant enough to provide a real challenge within a four to six week time limit whilst at the same time being distinctly “foreign” on arrival, with a course well clear of major shipping lanes.

The first AZAB took place in 1975 with 52 starters. With such a turnout, and many competitors clamouring for a repeat event, it was decided to follow OSTAR and hold AZAB every four years. The second race in 1979 accepted two-handed as well as single-handed entries – an obviously popular decision as by 1999 around 90% of the entrants were two-handed.

The course covers just under 2,500 miles of ocean – approximately 1220 on each leg from Falmouth to Ponta Delgada (on the island of San Miguel) and back. The majority of yachts usually take between 7 and 10 days to reach the Azores, allowing a week or so to relax, restock, and enjoy the wonderful hospitality laid on by the Clube Naval de Ponta Delgada.

There has been at least one Rival or Bowman yacht in every AZAB, with a record nine boats in 1979.


The 2011 AZAB

Now the 2011 race beckons. The Tenth Azores and Back Yacht Race is scheduled to start on Saturday 4th June 2011at 1200 UTC, from Falmouth. It is being organised again by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club.

Will there be another Rival or two continuing this pattern?  They are of course perfect long-distance boats for this type of sailing. The Notice of Race, Rules and Conditions can be found at the event's website: www.azab.co.uk  

If you are interested but are not sure if you are up to the challenge, why not plan to do your 500-mile non-stop qualifying passage with your chosen crew during 2010? Quite apart from being a key requirement for every entrant, it will tell you whether or not this event is for you.

There are five Rival entries for 2011, our largest group since 1983. They are: Dequila (41 - Dave Butters), Emanon (34 - Geert van Grootel), Foula (32 - David Cliffe), Sarah Giddings (34 - Roger Kynaston), and Tantine (34 - Jeremy Lenton).

(The RCYC is now maintaining a waiting list, as all of the 100 places are now taken).


Rival Entries in the AZAB 1975 to 2007



Rivalry 31                     David Ashwin

Meinwen 32                 Peter Evans

Moneve 32                   D J Mauchel

Wild Rival 34               Mervyn Wheatley



Moneve 32                   D J Mauchel

Roo 32                         J Chaundy

Bovis Bird 32               A T Brackstone

Dee Rival 32                D Melton

Lady Dona 34              Peter ter Laag

Wild Rival 34               Mrs K M Hampton

Malaprop 34                I N Reynard

Hajji Baba 34               T Wolff-Metternich

Lone Rival 38               G Hales



Plunder 32                    B A Hall/Miss A Henderson

B A Hall/Miss C Brouet-Menzies

Bird 32                         D M Wilson

Lady Dona 34              Peter ter Laag

Unrivalled 34                A J Groves/R J Morse

Adfin's Rival 38a          G Adams/S Murdoch



Largo 32                      John Passmore

Lady Dona 36              Peter ter Laag



Chicane Bowman 49    B. Wells/B.Sanders

Largo 32                      John Passmore

Villager 34                    E. Collier/J Collier



Haigri 38                      Mervyn Wheatley

Raasay of Melfort 34    Brian Coad/Peter Coad

Rival Spirit 36               Ian Addis/Vivien Addis



Raasay of Melfort 34    Brian Coad/Peter Coad

Safe Arrival 32             Dave Butters/Paul Coley

Samphire of Yealm 34  David Southwood/Frank Dunne

                                    Frank Dunne/Sebastian Southwood


Rivalee  34                   Bob Hudson/Geoffrey Dover



Late Arrival 32             Ronald Hastie/Toby Farrar