I have right at 1500 off-shore miles. All of those have been on distance races and/or return deliveries crewing/driving other people's boats. Therefore, I consider myself on the "newb"-end of the experience scale.
In other words, I'm the perfect candidate for the SDR. I qualify.
Now, I personally can't stand the idea of a rally. BUT, if I were to do one at this point in my experience, I would - without hesitation - do the C1500 (even with the steep price tag). No freakin' way would I do the SDR (even though it's free).
Sorry, but that's nonsensical... You've totally bought into the illusion of safety any rally supposedly provides...
Why is is so hard to understand the fundamental flaw behind the rationale of increased "Safety" with regards to these things? If any sailor lacks the confidence to attempt this passage on their own, with no assistance whatsoever from anyone not aboard that boat, they're not ready to make the passage, PERIOD
... Nothing that happens from the time you arrive in Hampton, no seminar, no safety inspector coming aboard your boat for 30 minutes to check the expiration date of your flares, NONE
of that stuff is gonna get you over the hurdle of being 'qualified' to go, or not...
Let's face it, we all know the "Standards for Entry" are essentially meaningless... Some sailors may learn virtually nothing of value from an offshore passage, others can gain invaluable experience in a 2 week summer cruise to Maine. In all my years of boating, the three most challenging conditions I've ever faced have occurred on Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie... Pretty tough to rack up 1000 mile passages on the Great Lakes, and yet those waters have produced many of the finest and toughest sailors in America... So, how can an organizer possibly arrive at a "Standard for Entry" that takes into meaningful account, the incredibly wide array of sailing experience people possess... So, make clear that it's for "Experienced" offshore/bluewater sailors - and that's where a skipper's personal responsibility first comes to the fore. Namely, being honest with himself whether or not he fits that category... NO ONE ELSE
can make that determination... If you don't feel
ready, you're not ready, simple as that...
But there is no way I'd attempt that run in Oct/Nov...rally or not. I completely believe and agree with Jon's and Harries' advice on this. I would want to try it first in a much mellower time of year - just to get the boat completely shaken down, learn the routes, etc. (Maybe a couple of times before trying it in the fall.) For me to try to jump into that trip with such small and volatile weather windows - rally or not - would be stupid. I know that.
Uhhh, perhaps you haven't heard - but the only "mellower" time of the year would be Hurricane Season...
I'm in no hurry to jump in over my head - even if a particular rally tells me I can and offers me lots of freebies to do so and grow their numbers. I'm the skipper. I'll make my own decision.
In that case, sounds like the SDR is the one for you... Why on earth would you cede your own decision-making to the Adult Supervisors who will be flying to the BVIs on a commercial airliner in time to set up the after-party?
Save your money, $2K is a lot to spend for a few parties, free dockage for a few days, and a safety inspection... Buy Bill Seifert's book, instead...
If I'm gonna deliver a boat anywhere, I'd prefer to have it prepped to Seifert's standards, over the ISAF standards, every time...