So, you want some more info on the Kraken Cup? That’s a wise life decision right there. The Cup is organised by us, The Adventurists, a UK based adventure company founded in 2006. This is a short, sharp run
down of the essentials.

The Kraken Cup is an oceanic odyssey quite unlike any other. It will test even the most accomplished sailors to prove their mettle against the elements.

If we can help with more info give us a shout,
our contact details are on the last page.

The Department of
Keeping Afloat at The
Adventurists HQ

1. Intro

Bollocks to boring modern yachts with their auto-pilots and comfy cabins. For a proper ocean adventure vessel you need to go back a few centuries.

Take a dugout canoe made from a mango tree, add a bamboo mast, a sail and a couple of outriggers and you have an Ngalawa - the ultimate sailing machine.

Line up against a fleet of like-minded souls and point it towards the Indian Ocean racecourse of spice islands, deserted beaches and sand banks off the coast of Tanzania. Whilst gunning for glory, you can celebrate the fact that you're helping do your bit to save the world too.

Welcome to the Kraken Cup, the world's greatest sailing race.
“So proud of my Team. We come as regular people, now they are sailors and warriors.”
- Al Nieve, Dos Bollitos Un Quesito, June 2017
“A crazy, horrific, beautiful, adventure”
Matt Sornson, Ngalawa Cup Jan 17
“The sun at 12 without wind. My lips cracked open by the herpes. The sore thighs. The sand creaking noise in every bite I ate.”
-Paulo Falco, Ngalawa Cup Jan 17

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

2. The Where and When

The Kraken Cup launches from Kilwa and ends some 300 nautical miles south in Mozambique. Wending your way down the east coast of the African continent, you will be stopping at various checkpoints.

The 2020 Dates

The Kraken Cup in 2020 has been postponed and we're investigating future dates - send us an email if you're interested and we'll keep you posted.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

3. Entry Criteria

How does the application process work?

Shortly after you sign up one of the team at HQ will be in touch with you to go over your sailing experience.

Sailing experience

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.

As a guide, the minimum qualifications would be Day Skipper and Competent Crew.

All 3 of your team should be competent sailors.

The race crew will reserve the right to disqualify you if they deem you unfit to sail during pre-race training.

Can you swim?

You need to be able to swim. We shouldn’t have to explain this requirement.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

4. The Boats

Speed: 5 - 10 knots

Hull: 5-6 metres

Draft: 0.7 metres

Beam: 0.5 metre (hull)

Beam: 5-6 metres (outriggers)

Sail: Lateen/ Settee

Sail area: 30 - 40 m2

Steering: Tiller

**Each boat is hand-made so don't be surprised if yours has slightly different measurements***

The longread

We source the ngalawas from communities on the coast of Tanzania mainland as well as from the islands that make up the Zanzibar and Mafia Island archipelagos.

The ngalawas are almost always used for fishing and have for centuries provided a livelihood for families on the coast. Unfortunately, the East African coastline has fallen prey to exhaustive illegal fishing practices and fish stocks are dangerously low. Dynamite fishing has destroyed vast tracts of coral reef and in so the habitat and breeding ground for many species have been reduced. There are also the foreign long line and gill net trawlers that fish illegally in Tanzanian waters and the government is not well equipped to tackle the problem. (Sea Shepherd has implemented a programme here in the last few years and are making progress)

With this said you can well imagine how the local Ngalawa fishermen are suffering. Many have had to abandon their traditional fishing and find alternative income avenues. One popular migration is to more efficient fishing practices using engine-driven fibreglass boats dragging nets. This doesn't help the overall situation but you can't blame a fisherman in this situation who has had his livelihood taken from him.

A secondary ramification of this is that the culture of the traditional dhow and Ngalawa building is being lost. There is less demand, with fewer locals fishing in ngalawas and those who are sticking with fishing are replacing their boats with modern fibreglass versions.

We buy second-hand ngalawas from families who are looking to move away from fishing. The capital they get from the sale helps them start a new business or bridges the gap while they find alternative work. There are also families who have recognized the business opportunity in selling us their current ngalawa and then building a new one, I am sure with the intention of selling it to us the following year - which is fine!

We pay a fair price which they would not fetch if they sold it within their community.

The race not only provides a market for ngalawas and promotes the boat building industry but revives a sense of pride in the communities we interact with. When teams land their ngalawas on remote islands they are flooded with excited children and adults who want to welcome you and help in every way. The ocean takes it's toll in the boats and boats require repairs and spares along the way. Local boat fundi's (the Swahili term for expert) are always on hand with their traditional bow drill and adze. The Fundi will fashion any part you need from rough lumber and fire forged nails. Teams compensate them fairly according to guidelines suggested by the race organisers.

Teams also support the tiny island economies by buying food and water in the villages. We pay camping fees on one of the islands and marine park fees for another.

Once all the ngalawas cross the finish line they are dismantled and treated to keep away pests before being stored in a boat yard. A local security guard keeps an eye on our babies until we return for the following edition when we gather a team of local fundis to reassemble the ngalawas and get them literally ship shape for the next edition.

The ngalawa is the smallest member of the dhow family. The dhow design has been around for close on 3000 years and the technology is virtually the same.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

5. Backup and support

The oceans are somewhat dangerous. People drown, get eaten, fall off the edge of the planet. Because we like to keep tragedy to a manageable level we've thrown a bit of a safety net in place.

You’ll be given some safety equipment and a tracker. There are Race Boats that will respond if SOS signals are triggered, but bear in mind it's the Indian Ocean and not central London, you'll still be responsible for keeping yourself in one piece.

The tracker will also be used to broadcast the race to the dot-watchers at home.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site


This is an outline of the rules, the full version will be published in the sailors' handbook.
  • The course will be locked down outside of daylight hours and we will lay down a penalty for ignoring it.
  • You're on your own. While accepting assistance from the race organisers will earn you a time penalty, feel free to make use of local skills to keep your boat afloat and on track.
  • Don't mess with the sails. No modifications to the boat to make it faster. Feel free to make it slower.
  • You'll be slapped with a penalty for false starts or missed check-points.
  • Chivalry first. If you see another boat in trouble you must stop and help them.
  • The race crew reserve the right to amend the course or hold the race.
  • Teams of three only. If you need to find teammates, The Facebook Group might be a good place to start.
  • All teammates must be over 18.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

7. The entry fee and what you get

The entry fee is £5,800

The entry fee is taken by debit or credit in GBP and can be paid in full or in monthly installments.

What’s included:
  • The right to tell your grandchildren you sailed the greatest ocean adventure on the seas
  • The use of a mighty Ngalawa equipped with flotation pontoons, a high viz flag, an LED flare & a paddle
  • Three days of pre-race training with race veterans and crew including theory sessions & navigation briefing
  • Race follow-boats to call on in an emergency
  • Satellite tracker & emergency beacon for each member of the team with two-way text messaging
  • Daily weather updates via your satellite tracker
  • Remote Race Office monitoring your personal trackers at all times during racing hours
  • Racecourse navigation charts; personal strobe lights and dye packs
  • Live Tracking Map, team blog & race news & updates posted by Race HQ for your friends and family to follow the action
  • Launch & finish parties & prize giving ceremony

Paying by instalments?

If you have chosen to pay by installments then you would have been charged for the first bit immediately. The next payment will come out of your bank automatically around 28 days later. Following payments will come out on the same day each month until the full amount is paid.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

8. Costs and Sponsorship

  • Insurance

    About £75

    Don't cut the corners on this one or you might end up weeping on a dirty hospital mattress as you remortgage your house to avoid surgery from an untrained vet with a blunt spoon.

  • Flights

    About £800 from Europe

    It depends where you're flying from of course.

  • Visas

    About £100+

    Most nationalities need a visa. If you need help try our chums at The Visa Machine

  • Charitable Donation

    We ask teams on all our adventures to raise £1,000 for charity, the first half of which goes to our official charity - Cool Earth, the rest can go to a charity (or charities) of your choosing. If you raise £1000 for Cool Earth, then you could win a trip to the Peruvian rainforest too. Nice.

  • Returnable Ngalawa deposit


    To cover the boat, the tracker, LED flare and inflatable pontoons. This will be returned after you hand them back on the finish line and everything has been checked over.

  • Vaccinations

    About £100

    You might need some immunisations. You might already have all the immunisations you need, you might also decide you don't need any. We advise checking with your local health centre what they recommend.

  • Food

    About £150

    Food is cheap and good, if you get to somewhere with a restaurant expect to pay £5-£10 for a meal, or less if you're eating on the fly. There are also enough fish to make catching your lunch an option.

  • Accommodation

    About £200

    Accommodation is pretty cheap. While the race is on it's very likely you'll sleep on beaches or sandbanks a fair bit.

  • Other kit


    You will need a GPS navigation compass, a portable battery pack to charge tracking devices, a dry-sack, a life-vest & a torch. You might also want a first aid kit (with bug spray & sun-cream). You could pack a tent or you might be happy with a mozzie net and sleeping bag liner.


A few teams in the past have successfully brought on sponsors to help with access to training, equipment and race costs. You can offer your potential sponsors personal sponsorship packages but major commercial projects and TV shows are restricted - give us a shout if you have plans for these we will always try and work with you to make it happen.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

9. Preparation

Sailing experience

We've mentioned this above, but it's worth repeating. If you come out with very little sailing skills you wont have a lot of fun. The poor sod in your team who know what he's doing will lose patience with you very quickly. If none of you know what you're doing, you wont be allowed to race.


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.


You’ll want to make sure you’ve got an insurance policy you’re happy with far enough in advance.

Make sure you know what your visa requirements are and make plans for this


Check with your travel clinic to see what vaccinations you might need and get advice on anti-malarial drugs.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

10. Saving the world

Not only is the Kraken Cup an industrial dose of adventure, it’s also about Saving the World. We ask every team to make their best efforts to raise a minimum of £500 for the official charity Cool Earth Anything above this can be raised for any other registered charity of your choice.

If you raise £1000 or more for Cool Earth you’ll be entered into the raffle with all the teams on The Adventurists adventures for a chance to win a money can’t buy trip to the Peruvian rainforest to see the work they do first hand.

Cool Earth works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction. Local people stand to lose the most from deforestation but the most to gain from its protection, that’s why they are the forest’s best possible custodians.

All Cool Earth partnerships are community-owned and led.

By developing local livelihoods, their mission is to end the cycle of deforestation entrenching villages into further poverty. Creating strong, self-determining communities.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site

12. Warning

These are genuinely dangerous things to do. The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot overestimate the risks involved in taking part in this adventure.

Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high. Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists' adventures have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled and even lost their life.

This is not a glorified holiday, it's an unsupported adventure and so by its very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk. This is what makes them adventures.

Back to the contents Back to The Kraken Cup main site