• Wave icon Trip Type: Offshore
  • Speech bubble icon Instructors: 2
  • People icon Crew Size: Max 9
  • Cake icon Ages: 18-75
  • Pin icon Region: Europe & the Baltic
High

Adventure Rating:
High

Day Skipper +

Experience Required:
Day Skipper +

13 Days from £2,499

Dates, Prices & Travel

Sail the Bay of Biscay

Take your sailing expertise to the next level with our advanced sailing course across the Bay of Biscay, specifically designed for those who have achieved the RYA Day Skipper qualification or ASA 104 or equivalent skills and experience). Ths masterclass isn’t just a sailing adventure; it’s a significant step up in your sailing career, enhancing your seamanship and skippering skills and providing real-world experience that can’t be found in any classroom.

Prior to the start of the sailing, we have a full shore based training day with headline speakers. In 2023 this was Mike Golding, OBE 4 x Vendee Globe Racer and Round the World Race winner; Miranda Merron, competitor in the Jules Verne Trophy with Tracey Edwards and raced in the 2020–2021 Vendée Globe; Simon Rowell, Round the World race skipper and meteorologist to the British Olympic Sailing Team

You’ll be properly tested, with the challenging waters of the Bay of Biscay as your training ground. It is an area renowned for its unpredictable weather and varied sea states. This is where theoretical knowledge meets practical application. Under the guidance of our seasoned instructors, you’ll refine your navigation skills, master advanced sailing techniques, and learn to make critical decisions under pressure.

The masterclass goes beyond basic sailing; it’s about leading a crew, managing a vessel through complex situations, and gaining the confidence and competence to handle various sailing scenarios. By the end, you’ll have improved your technical skills, leadership, and problem-solving abilities, making you a more proficient and self-assured skipper. The Bay of Biscay is your classroom, and you’ll emerge as a more skilled, experienced sailor ready to take on the seas with much greater confidence.

What is a Rubicon 3 Passage Making Masterclass?

A Rubicon 3 Passage Making Masterclass is an advanced sailing course designed for experienced sailors aiming to master the art of longer-distance and offshore sailing. This intensive program focuses on enhancing navigation skills, crew management, and decision-making in challenging conditions. Participants engage in hands-on learning, tackling complex weather systems, and refining their seamanship. The masterclass typically involves navigating across diverse and demanding marine environments, offering real-world experience in passage planning, night sailing, and emergency procedures. It’s an ideal training ground for those seeking to elevate their sailing capabilities to a professional level or for personal achievement in blue-water cruising.

Want to join?

Go to the Dates & Prices button to see the dates this trip runs. It will also give you information on connecting travel, including where to fly and when and where to join the boat.

 

Sailing Area

Grenadines sailing area map
Grenadines sailing route
The Yachts
Key Information
What’s included
  • All food and accommodation on board

  • All fuel & berthing fees

  • Your own bunk and storage area

  • Use of oilskins

  • Use of lifejacket

  • Sailing tuition

  • RYA Competent Crew (supplementary fee)

What’s Not included
  • Your connecting travel to & from boat

  • Sailing & travel insurance

  • Meals you choose to eat ashore

  • Alcohol

  • Visas where required

  • Discretionary tip

Interested in dates & availability?

To see when this trip runs, its start and end locations, price to join the crew and availability, click on the ‘Dates, Prices & Travel’ button up top.

Discretionary tipping of the Rubicon 3 crew

The trip price is 5% less than we would normally charge. This is to allow you at the end of your adventure to offer a combined 5-10% tip to the Rubicon 3 skipper and mate if you feel they have delivered exceptional performance. This tip is entirely discretionary. See our FAQs here.

Got some questions?

Joining a big sailing adventure is a big thing, so don’t be surprised if you have lots of questions before you book. Who else joins, what to expect, and so many more queries are entirely normal. The home page has loads of info on this (scroll to the bottom), there are our FAQs and never hesitate to contact us by email, phone or live chat. The team are here to have a chat, discuss options, answer questions and help make sure you get on the exact right sailing trip for you.

Masterclass Overview

This advanced sailing course is designed for sailors who wish to enhance their skills in offshore/ocean sailing, navigation, and crew management. The challenging waters of the Bay of Biscay provide an ideal setting for this intensive course, which combines practical sailing experience with more advanced theoretical knowledge. Read our overview of the Passage Making Masterclass series here.

Learn from World Class Sailors

This iconic event starts every year with a day in the lecture theatre where we hear from and learn from some of the most iconic sailors of their generation. In 2023 we were privileged to discuss heavy weather with Mike Golding MBE, world champion and multiple circumnavigation. Also Miranda Merron of Vendee Globe fame and an incredible meteorology masterclass from Simon Rowell, meteorologist to the British Olympic sailing team.

Mike Golding OBE

Winning skipper in the 1996/97 BT Global Challenge Round the World Race. 4 Vendee Globe round the world races. British Admiral’s Cup Team Leader. Extreme Sailing Series Racer. He has established and holds numerous world records and awards – including the prestigious “Emile Robin” and “Royal Humane Society” awards following the successful rescue of fellow solo sailor Alex Thomson from his sinking yacht in a remote part of the Southern Ocean.

Mike Golding

Miranda Merron

Navigator in the Volvo Ocean Race, a competitor in the Jules Verne Trophy and also in the Vendee Globe race. Route du Rhum racer and Global Ocean Race.

Miranda Merron

Simon Rowell

Round the World race skipper and now meteorologist to the British Olympic Sailing Team.

Simon Rowell

Finally, there will be a briefing from Bruce Jacobs on the route, timings and navigational marks. The day finishes with a big welcome party with food, drinks and plenty of fun.

On the water training day

The first day on the water is a big acclimatisation day, with crew taken gently through all the key skills (we know many will be rusty) and training to polish up individual and group skills. There will be lots of practice for all crew, so everyone is able to be fully involved. We will likely all head up the Helford River for a fun night at anchor.

navigating at sea

Passage to Brest

Exact timings and destinations will be weather dependant, but usually our first big sail is the 100 miles to Brest on the north west coast of France, possibly with a stop at Ushant if we can. Brest, the famous French maritime town, is the traditional launching point for big journeys south and for Biscay crossings. The three crews, each on their own yacht, will really get to test themselves against each other on this sail, which will take around 16 hours. As we say, it’s not a race but it will be interesting to see who comes in first!

In Brest itself, if we have made good time, we can have a fun evening around the Quai Commandant-Malbert area, with its great views of the city. The hundred or so multi-coloured buoys of the Finistère lighthouses and beacons are a spectacular sight, as is the mythical La Recouvrance schooner and the Abeille-Flandres, one of the most powerful towboats in the world.

crew at sea in foulies

Across Biscay to Spain

While in Brest, we will carefully watch the weather, and when it’s favourable we’ll set off on this famous passage, made by so many thousands of intrepid sailors before us. We have around 340 miles to sail on a south westerly heading. With a good weather window, we’ll have spectacular sailing, with winds that give these special yachts everything they need to speed through the water at around 10 knots. These blue water thoroughbreds are at their best when offshore and you will realise just how special they are. Supremely safe, strong and perfectly at home.

sailing at sea

The crossing usually takes about 2-3 days, so you will be in a full watch system, sailing through the night and days. It’s a wonderful offshore sail. We are well west of the infamous shelf, but strong winds can still come through so all our training will be important, but we could not be on better suited yachts and heavy weather if it comes is all part of the experience of Biscay!

Our likely destination is the wonderful Spanish town of A Coruna. This is a port city and very much a cultural hub for this part of Galicia. It’s a historic city and a proud modern metropolis with a fine food scene, an intriguing place to discover. After the cold, dark days of the British autumn, you are suddenly in warm, sunny Spain and there is a fantastic sense of truly having sailed to a new country. Again, the crews can see who has come first into A Coruna, and enjoy another small social evening out on the town.

sailing yacht under spinnaker

Around Cape Finnisterre, European mainland’s most westerly point

We have around 70 miles left, and some of the most wonderful cruising if time allows. Now is the time to relax and enjoy, with skills and teamwork polished and a slick sailing team able to take in the best of this Galician coastline. There are countless options, with small Spanish coastal towns with tapas, beer and beautiful views to take in through the warm evenings. One of the real attractions is of course rounding (& possibly walking right up to) Cape Finisterre and the very edge of Europe.

We end the Bay of Biscay Expedition with all three yachts docked in  Vigo, Spain for one last, final hurrah, with lots of fun to be had in town before all the crew head their separate ways.

Masterclass Objectives

  • To develop more advanced sailing skills in coastal and offshore scenarios, including navigation and piloting.
  • To enhance weather forecasting and storm tactics abilities.
  • To practice emergency procedures and safety management.
  • To refine sail trim and boat handling skills in various conditions, including rough weather.
  • To improve crew management and communication.

Syllabus Outline

Pre-Departure Preparation

  • Safety briefing and emergency procedures.
  • Overview of the voyage plan.
  • Weather routing and forecasting.
  • Crew roles and responsibilities.
breaking waves

Advanced Coastal Navigation

  • Coastal pilotage techniques.
  • Tidal calculations and current analysis.
  • Night sailing and navigation.

Offshore Passage Making

  • Open water navigation and plotting.
  • Advanced sail trim techniques for different wind conditions.
  • Watchkeeping routines and fatigue management.
  • Heavy weather sailing tactics.
ocean sailing

Weather Systems and Meteorology

  • Understanding the Beaufort scale and synoptic charts.
  • Identifying and handling squalls, fronts, and storms.
  • Barometric trends and their implications.
synoptic chart

Emergency Scenarios and Drills

  • Man overboard recovery under sail and power.
  • Firefighting and abandon ship procedures.
  • Damage control and water ingress management.
rough weather

Crew Leadership and Teamwork

  • Effective communication and decision-making under stress.
  • Conflict resolution and crew welfare.
  • Leadership styles and crew motivation.

Note: This course requires high commitment and participation from all crew members. Participants are expected to participate actively in the voyage, including night watches, navigation, and daily chores.

Further considerations

Understanding the Weather: The Bay of Biscay is notorious for its volatile weather patterns. Understanding meteorological conditions is crucial for a safe passage. Sailors should have a firm grasp of reading synoptic charts and interpreting weather forecasts. The area is known for strong winds, mainly the northerly winds and westerly winds that can whip up suddenly. Summer (July to September) offers the calmest conditions, but vigilance is still vital. Utilizing the weather forecast, knowing when you’re most likely to get the best wind direction, and having a flexible itinerary that allows for weather-related delays and using the best weather window are essential.

The continental shelf

The continental shelf in the Bay of Biscay is infamous for causing breaking seas due to its shallow depth, which reduces from 3000 to 200 meters in less than 20 miles. As deep-water waves approach the shallower continental shelf, their velocity decreases while wave height increases, often resulting in steep, breaking waves that can be very dangerous. This is exacerbated by the northerly winds that follow a low, leading to a confused seas state.

Navigation Skills Advanced navigation skills are a prerequisite for crossing the Bay of Biscay. The area’s complex tidal patterns, busy shipping lanes, and many fishing boats demand a high level of competency in chart plotting, GPS navigation, and the use of radar. Night sailing experience is also essential, as the passage will involve overnight sailing. A thorough understanding of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) is necessary to navigate high-traffic areas safely.

Boat Preparation and Equipment A well-prepared boat is your best ally in the unpredictable waters of Biscay. You are heading out into the Atlantic Ocean, so the vessel should be seaworthy, with a solid hull, reliable engine, and efficient bilge pumps. Rigging and sails must be in excellent condition, capable of withstanding strong winds and heavy seas. Essential equipment includes a life raft, EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon), VHF radio, AIS (Automatic Identification System), and a well-stocked first aid kit. Preparing for emergencies with tools and spare parts for basic repairs is also critical.

Crew Readiness The importance of a well-prepared and cohesive crew cannot be overstated. Each crew member should be experienced in sailing in rough conditions and mentally and physically prepared for the trip’s demands. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and understood. Regular drills for man-overboard situations, fire onboard, and abandoning ship are essential for crew readiness.

Provisioning and Comfort While not as immediately critical as safety, the comfort of the crew significantly impacts the voyage’s success. Adequate provisioning, including food, water, and fuel, is essential. Meals that are easy to prepare in rough conditions can boost morale. Attention should also be paid to personal gear, ensuring each crew member has appropriate clothing for warm and cold conditions.

Mental Preparedness: The psychological aspect of crossing the Bay of Biscay is as crucial as the physical preparation. Sailors should be mentally prepared for the potentially rough conditions, and the need for constant vigilance. A positive attitude and the ability to remain calm under pressure are invaluable traits for such a journey.

Respect for the Sea Finally, a deep respect for the sea and its unpredictability should guide every decision when you sail the Bay of Biscay. Overconfidence can be dangerous in such challenging conditions. Sailors should be ready to adjust plans based on weather, crew well-being, and vessel condition.

Conclusion A Biscay crossing is an ambitious undertaking that demands thorough preparation and respect for the sea’s might. With careful planning, skilled navigation, and a well-prepared crew and vessel, sailors can successfully navigate these challenging waters. The journey, while demanding, leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and a deep connection with the vast and unpredictable nature of the ocean.

Ready to join the masterclass? Head to the Dates & Prices tab

Dates, Prices & Travel

Start Date & Location

October 13, 2024
Falmouth, England

End Date & Location

October 25, 2024
Vigo, Spain

Price

£2,499

Deposit

£1,149

Availability

Available

Trip Information

Start Date: October 13, 2024

Start Time: Time TBC

Start Country: Falmouth, England

Start Port: Falmouth

Start Marina: Port Pendennis

End Date: October 25, 2024

End Time: Time TBC

End Country: Vigo, Spain

End Port: Vigo

End Marina: Marina Davilla Sport

Find Flights For This Trip
Fly Into: Newquay (IATA Code: NQY)
Fly Out of: Vigo (IATA code: VGO)

* Flights are not included in the trip price.

Important Notes
Joining the boat
  • You will join the boat in Falmouth, England.
  • It is scheduled to be in Port Pendennis Marina.
  • The trip starts at 9:00 AM on October 13 2024, so you will need to be in Falmouth by October 12, 2024.
  • You have two options for accommodation on the night before the start date:
    • Stay in a hotel or AirBnB in Falmouth.
    • Alternatively, you can stay onboard the boat from 6:00 PM on a bed & breakfast basis. Select this option during your booking process.
Leaving the boat
  • You will leave the boat in Vigo, Spain
  • The boat is scheduled to arrive into Vigo on the evening of October 24, 2024, and you will need to disembark by 09:00 October 25th 2024.
General Notes
  • We have a very strong track record of meeting the scheduled end date, with only a few exceptions over a decade of sailing and across hundreds of thousands of miles of sailing. However, given the nature and distance of ocean crossings, we can’t guarantee it and recommend booking flexible onward travel from Spain or at least allowing an extra day in your itinerary as a precaution.
  • You cannot stay on the boat after the trip end date.
  • Once you have booked, we will connect you up with other crew so you can liaise regarding connecting travel, meet up in advance etc.
  • If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
5-Point Pre-Booking Checklist

Before you finalize your booking, we suggest you run through our pre-booking checklist:

  1. Check Flights: Make sure you have found the right flights for your trip. Book them as soon as you have booked your Rubicon 3 trip.
  2. Travel Insurance: Once you’ve booked your trip with us, buy some sailing travel insurance. Read our full guide here.
  3. Passport Validity: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. Some countries require this for entry, so it’s crucial to check and renew your passport if necessary.
  4. Visas: Most sailors will not require any visas for this trip. However, if you are concerned, check any visa requirements for both your destination and any transit countries. If you do need a visa, processing times can vary, so it’s advisable to apply well in advance of your trip.
  5. Vaccinations and Health Checks: There are no vaccinations required for this trip. Make sure you have an acceptable level of fitness and agility. You can read our guide here. This is for the safety of all on board.
Add Trip Extras

Sub total:

Start Date & Location

October 19, 2025
Falmouth, England

End Date & Location

October 31, 2025
Vigo, Spain

Price

£2,499

Deposit

£1,149

Availability

Available

Trip Information

Start Date: October 19, 2025

Start Time: 09:00

Start Country: Falmouth, England

Start Port: Famouth

Start Marina: Port Pendennis Marina

End Date: October 31, 2025

End Time: 09:00

End Country: Vigo, Spain

End Port: Vigo

End Marina: Marina Davilla Sport

Find Flights For This Trip
Fly Into: Newquay (IATA Code: NQY)
Fly Out of: Vigo Airport (IATA Code: VGO)

* Flights are not included in the trip price.

Important Notes
Joining the boat
  • You will join the boat in Falmouth, England.
  • It is scheduled to be in Port Pendennis Marina.
  • The trip starts at 9:00 AM on October 19 2025, so you will need to be in Falmouth by October 18, 2025.
  • You have two options for accommodation on the night before the start date:
    • Stay in a hotel or AirBnB in Falmouth.
    • Alternatively, you can stay onboard the boat from 6:00 PM on a bed & breakfast basis. Select this option during your booking process.
Leaving the boat
  • You will leave the boat in Vigo, Spain
  • The boat is scheduled to arrive into Vigo on the evening of October 30, 2025, and you will need to disembark by 09:00 31st October 2025
General Notes
  • We have a very strong track record of meeting the scheduled end date, with only a few exceptions over a decade of sailing and across hundreds of thousands of miles of sailing. However, given the nature and distance of ocean crossings, we can’t guarantee it and recommend booking flexible onward travel from Spain or at least allowing an extra day in your itinerary as a precaution.
  • You cannot stay on the boat after the trip end date.
  • Once you have booked, we will connect you up with other crew so you can liaise regarding connecting travel, meet up in advance etc.
  • If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
5-Point Pre-Booking Checklist

Before you finalize your booking, we suggest you run through our pre-booking checklist:

  1. Check Flights: Make sure you have found the right flights for your trip. Book them as soon as you have booked your Rubicon 3 trip.
  2. Travel Insurance: Once you’ve booked your trip with us, buy some sailing travel insurance. Read our full guide here.
  3. Passport Validity: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. Some countries require this for entry, so it’s crucial to check and renew your passport if necessary.
  4. Visas: Most sailors will not require any visas for this trip. However, if you are concerned, check any visa requirements for both your destination and any transit countries. If you do need a visa, processing times can vary, so it’s advisable to apply well in advance of your trip.
  5. Vaccinations and Health Checks: There are no vaccinations required for this trip. Make sure you have an acceptable level of fitness and agility. You can read our guide here. This is for the safety of all on board.
Add Trip Extras

Sub total:

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