Read the inspirational story of Ruedi Brunnhofer, who is back for his second Oyster World Rally which starts on 15th January 2017. And for this rounding he has upsized from the 54-18 In Flagranti he commissioned for the first, to a new 575-36 Inflagranti for the second, with only a little space between, in time and spelling! In both cases handover completed just six months before departure, but Ruedi’s learning curve was initially steeper than most. Here he tells his story…
I was a completely new sailor with no experience at all when I ordered my Oyster. It was learning by doing. On the rally I had to pay so much attention to the boat that with such a fast circumnavigation I was always thinking more about what we were doing than where we were. That is the main reason I am going again, to enjoy all the places we visit this time! At first I didn’t know about the Oyster World Rally, I only learned of it after I signed the contract for the boat. I had just decided I wanted to sail and looked to Oyster. I was going to go to the Mediterranean but then the pieces came together. I am not an extreme adventurer, more the safety-orientated type. It was the sense that I do it now or never, knowing that with the organization of the rally and all the support I am not alone with the yacht, I’m with people who can help if I have a problem. Without this I would never, ever have started this adventure. In terms of the confidence this built, now I would go alone, but it’s good there is this second edition! Another encouragement was that to my surprise my son was ready to come with me. His studies were finishing just as the rally was starting, so as well as family it was to be a father-son experience. If he started his career earlier it would never have happened.
In Switzerland you need 1000nm experience for your offshore licence but I had only been motor boating on a Swiss lake before. I’d not sailed even dinghies, but I got my miles with a fellow Swiss entry, Thomas Meseck, sailing with him on the handover delivery of his 575-10 Satika. He was very encouraging. My handover was at the end of June, the same as this time, and then we had to be ready to go to Las Palmas for the ARC. First, together with a Swiss sailing friend and Marie-Theres, my partner, we sailed to the Baltic, then I had an RYA instructor aboard for three weeks. My son, Lukas, a non-sailor too, finished his studies in the September and went straight to the RYA school in Gibraltar, sailing there for a couple of months and then joining me on In Flagranti. I had to keep working until the end of October 2012 close to departure but I am not an anxious man.
For the ARC, we had experienced crew aboard and when we arrived we were much more able… and on our own. One thing I did last time though, and which I will do again, is have a weather router who was available the whole way around, whenever I felt need, and I used this for any passage over, say, five or seven days. I’m German-speaking Swiss and he was German so everything was very clear, easy for me. His forecasts were very precise. There was never a surprise. I always knew what weather was coming. At times this was winds of 50 knots and waves I guess six to eight metres high. The first time this was a scary experience but it gave me a lot of confidence that Oyster yachts really work, and there was never a critical situation.
When did I decide to go again? It was more or less immediately. It’s important to know that I don’t see myself as a sailor. I am somebody who loves travelling, and this time it was a sailing boat I chose as the thing to go from A to B. But with all the caring for our course and the boat I didn’t see a lot of where we visited. I especially missed places in the Pacific, this is the reason that I want to go back to the South Seas... and this decision was made rather quickly. The Pacific is heaven! We all dive (Lukas and I since 1997) and have a compressor on board both the old and new boat. We will do more this time. Lukas has started his career so can now come only for parts but some of the diving last time was for him just the best. In the Galapagos particularly, where we joined a dive charter boat for a seven-day trip. It had been his dream for years to dive with hammerhead sharks. They were in abundance, in huge groups, and it left him thinking the islands were the most amazing place on earth.
I’m looking forward to revisiting and also diving in the Tuamotus and Fiji. I mainly just want more time to explore and I’m thinking maybe I’ll go to the Easter Islands. I have signed into the rally only until Australia, where I will think about what to do. Maybe it’s an idea to leave the boat there for some years, have a holiday home and sailing boat there… but this is completely open.
Words by Mike Owen.