PARRAIN, C., 2011. Sailing Routes and Stopovers: Spatial Disparities Across the Atlantic. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3–2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 140'149. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749–0208.
Nowadays, sailing is a recreational and professional (racing, deliveries) activity that groups enjoy different practices including cruising and racing. The renown of a few offshore races and the stories of some famous sailors have encouraged more and more people to go and “experience” the ocean. We are interested in the Atlantic crossings that require a certain knowledge of the weather and the routes. Thus, these sailors cross the Atlantic during specific seasons and have some preferred stopover ports. This subject has been analyzed using interviews carried out in the Azores, the statistics of several sailing associations and data provided by some marinas and harbors as well as our own observations during two crossings.
The first results confirm that some Atlantic sailing “territories” - or sea-territories or “merritoires” for the French term - exist. In fact, there is a difference in use between the Northern and Southern hemispheres and also within the North Atlantic. There is also a spatial difference between and within the Atlantic archipelagos, which reveals Atlantic centralities. The European sailors mainly stop over in Madeira and/or the Canary Islands and sometimes in the Cape Verde Islands before reaching the Caribbean. On the way back, Bermuda and especially the Azores represent the main stopovers where offshore sailors relate their sailing experience. The centralities are linked not only to the history and facilities of the different islands but also to the choice of the race organizers and the different motivations of sailors (repairs, tourism or discovery).
By knowing these routes and the main stopovers, the offshore Atlantic sailing pattern shows a hierarchy which may be helpful for policies that take into account this flow of a distinctive type of traveler and user.