The singlehanding dilemma


On the one hand it is one of the most inspiration parts of our sport - on the other it is technically illegal. James Boyd reports
In his article yesterday on madforsailing, Ed Gorman extolled the virtues of singlehanded offshore racing, how it has attracted more sponsorship than any other form of yacht racing in the UK in recent years and how it has created more stars. But at present there is one giant-sized anomaly. While singlehanded offshore racers are winning awards, inspiring future generations of sportsmen and women and generally behaving like the forefront of our sport, remarkably it still has next to no support from the yachting establishment in the UK. If you are a youth sailor, inspired to become the next Ellen MacArthur, there is the chance to get training and funding to go to the Olympics, but not to set you on the road to the Vendee Globe. The reason for this reluctance is down to a long held belief that singlehanded offshore sailing is illegal. Under the International Maritime Organisation's International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (1972) rule 5 states: 'Lookout: Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.' So if a singlehanded skipper was asleep while their yacht ploughed into the side of another vessel, then the solo sailor could be found guilty of not maintaining a proper look-out. Solo sailors rebuke this in a number of ways. For starters, a vessel under power should give way to a vessel under sail, so in theory the only instance when the singlehander would be liable would be when an incident involved another sailing vessel. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop around the world singlehanded, makes the argument that in the event of a

VISITORS