Leg One, Portsmouth - Le Havre
When: 14th - 20th July 2018
Distance: 100 miles
Length of Row: 3-4 days of rowing
What to Expect: The World's busiest shipping lane, changeable winds and sea state along with a Channel crossing to be hugely proud of
Interesting fact: The first passenger ferry to cross the Channel was in 1821
Leg One will begin from Portsmouth on the weekend of the 14th July. Leaving the historic harbour behind you and passing the Second World War Forts in the Solent, you'll have time to gather your thoughts and settle into your watch system while views of the Isle of Wight fade behind you.
As with all offshore rowing, the length of the passage will be heavily determined by the weather you face and the efficiency of your team. You'll cross 20 miles of the busiest shipping lane in the world, which could take you a day to do in itself.
The tide will be sweeping you to the East and to the West, so tactical planning will be critical throughout to ensure you remain on course for the finish line. Your skipper will rely on your support throughout, keeping your eyes peeled for passing ships and tracking your progress.
Le Havre, situated at the mouth of the River Seine, will be a beautiful sight irrespective of whether you arrive in the middle of the day or the early hours of the morning. The sense of achievement will be enormous regardless of what position your team finishes in.
Leg Two, Le Havre - Guernsey
When: 21st - 27th July 2018
Distance: 120 miles
Length of Row: 4 days of rowing
What to Expect: A challenging tidal row as you navigate passed the Race of Alderney and the Casquets culminating in a stunning welcome into St Peter Port
Interesting fact: The world’s first underwater arrest occurred in Guernsey.
As Le Havre disappears from the horizon, you'll soon be offshore with nothing but water around you. This leg is split into 3 parts, and so expect the leader board to change multiple times throughout the race. The first part, which covers about half the distance of the leg will be crossing the Baie de Seine, which will include anything from beautiful flat water to short sharp waves challenging you. With the second part of the leg you'll be focusing on staying south of the shipping lane and ensuring you are sufficiently offshore as you pass Cherbourg.
The third part of the leg is arguably the toughest, where you'll be navigating the island of Alderney and battling some of the strongest tides in the English Channel. Teams who time their positioning really well, will be able to use the tides to their advantage and either secure their lead or potentially propel themselves from further down the field to the front.
The final 20 miles of the race will provide views of Alderney, Herm, Sark and finally your destination, St Peter Port on the East Coast of Guernsey. The port is in the main town of Guernsey, so there will be plenty of places to relax and celebrate after a gruelling but very rewarding race.
Leg Three, Guernsey - Isles of Scilly
When: 28th July - 3rd August 2018
Distance: 170 miles
Length of Row: 6 days of rowing
What to Expect: The Big One! A truly breathtaking place to relax and reflect on the race
Interesting fact: 150 islands and rocks make up the Isles of Scilly, 5 of which are inhabited
The timing of your departure will be carefully planned to ensure maximum benefit of the outgoing tide to get all teams safely offshore. Guernsey will remain in your view for a few hours as you work your way up the coast and into safe water. You'll then be able to start making your way in a northwesterly direction towards the Isles of Scilly.
It is the longest leg of the race series by a margin and is against the prevailing winds, so if you're looking for the tough one, then this is the one for you. The team that wins will be the one that gets into a routine straight away and then methodically keeps the boat moving at a steady pace 24 hours a day.
The Isles of Scilly has had more shipwrecks along its shores than anywhere else in the world, so make sure you keep plenty of energy in reserve as you approach St Marys, as your navigational skills will be thoroughly tested.
Leg Four, Isles of Scilly - Plymouth
When: 11th - 17th August 2018
Distance: 90 miles
Length of Row: 3-4 days of rowing
What to Expect: A fantastic mix of open waters and Cornish coastline followed by the dramatic backdrop of Plymouth for your arrival
Interesting fact: The Eddystone Lighthouse (off Plymouth) was the first offshore lighthouse in the world
The first 20 miles of this leg will be about navigating your way into open water and traversing the traffic separation scheme which carries shipping to and from the Irish Sea. You'll be rowing for the next 40 miles with nothing but water on your horizon as you propel yourselves towards Lizard point in Cornwall, where you might get lucky and row close enough to see the coast line for a few hours.
The shortest route will then take your team back offshore for the second half of your leg where you might catch a glimpse of the Eddystone lighthouse before the final few hours to Plymouth. The arrival is very dramatic, with an incredible landscape and huge area of water behind the breakwater known as the Plymouth Sound.
Plymouth is home to England's oldest Gin distillery, so a great reason to have a drink, sit back, enjoy the views and reflect on you remarkable achievement.
Leg Five, Plymouth - Weymouth
When: 18th - 24th August 2018
Distance: 85 miles
Length of Row: 3-4 days of rowing
What to Expect: Tidal rowing along both the incredible coastline and offshore
Interesting fact: The Cenotaph, St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace are all made from Portland Stone
One third of this leg will be coastal rowing, but the rest will be pure open water as you cross the vast Lyme Bay. As you row through the start line and leave Plymouth behind you, you will have the reassuring Devon coastline to look at as your team beds down into its watch system. The second day will see you row into open water and leave all hints of land behind you.
As you approach the island of Portland, you will either have timed your arrival absolutely perfectly and be able to take advantage of the tide as you row round the southern tip and creep up the east coast, or you will have more of a battle on your hands. There's a good chance of a change in fleet positions at this point, and with just 7 miles to run before the race course runs out, all teams will paying very close attention.
Rowing passed the breakwater and across the finish line into Portland Marina will fill you and your team with a huge amount of pride as to what you have achieved.
Leg Six, Weymouth - Portsmouth
When: 25th - 31st August 2018
Distance: 75 miles
Length of Row: 3 days of rowing
What to Expect: Challenging tides, prevailing winds and great views as you row around the Isle of Wight
Interesting fact: The only commercial hovercraft in the UK operates between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight
As you wave farewell to Weymouth and the incredible Jurassic Coast, the order of the day is to head immediately offshore and to get clear of St Alban's head. You'll be rowing in open water for the next two days with the southern tip of the Isle of Wight as your next point of navigation.
As you pass St Catherine's point, you'll either be lucky enough to catch a glimpse in the daylight or see the reassuring glow of the light house off to your right hand side. The final 15 miles will be a good tidal battle up the coast of the Isle of Wight and then into the Solent, passed the forts and across the finish line! The Solent has witnessed a vast number of significant maritime events, so its history is a fitting place for the finish of the first UK Offshore Rowing Series. It's then time to celebrate!