Former dinghy sailors Judy and Jon Hilton hope to use this summer’s ARC Channel Islands rally as a stepping stone to long-distance cruising.

The couple made the switch from dinghy to yacht sailing when they bought their Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 509 Alpamayo last October.

Their goal is to do a transatlantic crossing with the World Cruising Club’s (WCC’s) Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in a couple of years’ time, and then to spend some time in the Caribbean before cruising further afield.

Retired orthodontist Judy said: ‘This will be our first rally. We bought a yacht in October and plan to do some big trips, we need to build our way up to longer trips.’

Judy and Jon live in Yardley Hastings in Northamptonshire ‘about as far from the sea as you can get’ and keep Alpamayo at Haslar Marina.

Judy, 49, said: ‘I’ve just sailed a leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, it was absolutely amazing, crazy and mad. Part of the reason I did that was to do some ocean-going passages. I have passed the Yachtmaster theory exam and hope to be examined for the practical in the next few weeks.

‘I’ve dinghy sailed all my life, my parents had a little yacht but most of my sailing has been on dinghies.

‘We bought a yacht that we felt would be big enough for bigger passages. To do something like that straight off would be quite daunting.

‘We’re building up gradually with things like the Channel Islands rally.’

The rally

ARC Channel Islands Rally map

ARC Channel Islands Rally map

The ARC Channel Islands rally, will take place from 20 to 27 August 2016 and is already fully subscribed with 30 boats.

The event offers boat owners, charterers and their crews the opportunity to enjoy the many highlights that make the Channel Islands so popular with sailors whilst gaining more experience sailing further afield as part of a cruise in company.

It’s being run by WCC in association with the Royal Yachting Association’s Active Marina and with the support of Hamble School of Yachting and Practical Boat Owner magazine.

Channel Islands rally seminar

An ARC Channel Islands Rally Seminar will be held at Chichester Yacht Club this Saturday 30 April, 2016 from 10am to 4pm.

The one-day preparation seminar, which is ticketed but open to all, will cover areas important for completing a channel crossing as well as information for cruising around the Channel Islands and guidance on how to prepare boat and crew for the cruise, as well as reminders of best practice for safe sailing.

Roger Seymour, senior instructor from Hamble School of Yachting, will join the World Cruising Club team as a presenter at the seminar. Roger will also be the skipper of the rally’s lead boat, provided by Hamble School of Yachting during week-long Channel Islands Rally.

Seminar topics will include the route overview, ports visited and how rally will work; basic passage planning – including options in emergencies; hazards on the route; tides around the Channel Islands; dealing with problems at sea; radio procedure; reminders, how to get medical assistance etc; watch keeping tips– food, night sailing, keeping warm; sources of weather; what to include in a safety brief to crew; recommended safety equipment; MOB tips; things you should know – over view and further training recommendations.

Jeremy Wyatt, WCC communications director, said: ‘We have been able to take all boats off our waiting list, so now have 30 registered for the rally – our maximum. Of these, crews from at least 25 boats are coming to the seminar. We should have around 70 people there.’

The seminar is open to non-rally participants and costs £45 including lunch and coffees. Find out more at: