Before you even set foot on a plane though you'll want to check you're got enough sailing experience and done enough training. Here's some tips from our good friend, and round the world yachtsman Simon Walker:
You are going to need to be able to sail, which is not the same as you've been sailing a few times.
There is quite a difference between crewing on someone else’s boat and sailing you own. Whether you learnt doing a course (a dingy course is good), or if you learnt with mates on bigger yachts, at least two of your team need to be confident helms, understand all points of sailing and how to balance any boat.
Ngalawas are not like anything else you’ll have sailed, but if you really know the sailing principles, you’ll work it out pretty quickly.
For example, you can’t tack a Ngalawa. If you don’t understand the implications of this and what you need to do instead, you’d better chat with someone more experienced who can talk you through it. Think about what that means for a man over board …
With a primitive boat in a remote place seamanship has never been more important. This includes using great judgment to not get in trouble in the first place – so for example understanding lee-shores and knowing which side of a reef to sail past to avoid huge, inescapable breakers.
Other things to brush up on include old school knots and lashings. Ngalawas are literally lashed together, and a granny knot just won’t hack it.
You need to talk to your team about this. Someone needs to be in charge and call the shots, and people need to know their roles.
You’ll need to brief each other before you start a manoeuvre and have a debrief afterwards – that way you’ll learn after every cluster fuck and it’ll get easier.
How you are going to work together is great stuff to talk about in the pub before the race.
Navigation and using your GPS device
If you can't navigate properly, how will you win the race? Or even find the next island. Make sure you're familiar with the GPS device you bring along for your team and how to operate it properly.
You'll get laminated waterproof paper charts too and you need to be comfortable using those and transferring a GPS fix onto the chart, as well as finding an old school fix using a compass.
There are tides in Tanzania, so you need to understanding stuff like tide timetables so you don't wake up to your boat stranded on the beach.
We'll cover it in pre-race training but you need to prepare and be ready for this element of the race.
Aside from the sailing experience and skills you'll need on each team, you'll need to be in good shape. This is a tough race, not a flotilla holiday. You'll be at sea for long periods, conditions can change, you may have to get stuck into some running repairs on the boat.
There's lots of camping, every day you'll be working hard on the Ngalawa Cup. We strongly recommend making sure you're in reasonable shape and haven't been sat on the sofa for a year before you turn up. Being physically ready will make your team safer too.
Finally, the Ngalawa Cup community really want to share what they have learnt – get involved in the Facebook group and ask stuff. It’ll pay dividends.