Yachtmaster Ocean Course helps rowers reach Mauritius

Yachtmaster Ocean Course – Helping rowers reach Mauritius
Yachting Australia’s RYA/YA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course is arming four West Australian’s with the navigational skills needed to achieve what many see as the impossible, rowing from Australia to Mauritius.  
Matt Hort, Andrew Taylor, Pete Tomic and David Louw are taking part in the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009, a 6,000km epic journey beginning in Geraldton on 19 April.
The Go West team are the only representatives from Australia and in order to safely make it across the Indian Ocean are taking part in the RYA/YA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course.  
Rower Matt Hort says that while the RYA/YA Yachtmaster Ocean shorebased theory course qualification is a mandatory requirement for the race it is proving invaluable in raising the team’s knowledge and skill level.
 “The Yachtmaster Ocean course has been totally new to us and we’ve been getting a lot out of our lessons. Our confidence level has risen dramatically and we now feel that our route planning is better than what we could do with a GPS,” he said.
“If our electronics fail we now know how that with a time piece, sextant and compass we can make it to Mauritius without relying on electronics.”
Matt says that while the thought of rowing across the Indian Ocean is daunting all the information they have been taking in will come together to get them to the finish safely.
“The four of us are all experienced rowers and athletes but a challenge such as rowing across the Indian Ocean is a huge undertaking.“
“Our goal is to make it to Mauritius in 45 days, it’s David’s birthday on the second of June and we’d much prefer to have a cold beer on the beach instead of a warm beer on the boat,” said Matt.
Matt has found the content of the Yachtmaster Ocean theory course to be relevant while shining a new light on mathematics.
“When I was younger I struggled with maths, it didn’t mean anything to me,” said Matt.   “It’s a pity they don’t teach maths in the way we’re being instructed, when it’s applied to something like navigation it all makes sense.”

The Go West team has been instructed by Peter Robinson, Chief Instructor and Principal at Fremantle Yachtmaster Academy, a RYA/Yachting Australia recognised training centre.
“The team are progressing through the course very well, they’re very bright lads,” said Peter. “We are working with an abstract concept which takes a lot of commitment to understand and the Go West team have shown a high level of determination and made up their minds that they’ll complete it.”
“Throughout the RYA/YA Yachtmaster Ocean course we’ve been working with full scale charts of the Indian Ocean and even utilising tennis balls on string to symbolise sunrise and sunset so that if their electronics fail, the boys will still find their way to Mauritius,” he said.
Peter has more than 30 years experience in the yachting industry and says that the content of the RYA/YA Yachtmaster Ocean course will allow the Go West team to be self-sufficient and capable of navigating by the stars without electronics. 
The Yachtmaster Ocean qualifications signifies that an individual is knowledgeable about ocean passage making including planning, celestial navigation, worldwide meteorology, crew management, yacht preparation, maintenance and repairs.
The Indian Ocean Rowing Challenge is the first ever official rowing race across the Indian Ocean and whilst rescue vehicles will support the fleet, each crew must be completely self sufficient, carrying approximately 500kg of dehydrated expedition food and the boats are fitted with solar panels to power a watermaker. 
Of the 279 recorded trans-ocean port departures, 174 of which were completed, only four have been across the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is hotter, has less favourable winds and currents and has less predictable weather than the Atlantic Ocean meaning the Go West team will have their work cut out for them in their quest to be the first team to reach Mauritius. 
For more information on Yachting Australia training courses visit www.yachting.org.au