When Mylor Yacht Harbour’s Dock Master retires in April, there will be no slippers and pipe to look forward to but a 2,400 nautical mile ocean race to the Azores and Back (AZAB) aboard his 34-foot Sweden Yachts 340 Saphir.

Chris Darbyshire, supported by Mylor which is also a partner sponsor of the AZAB race itself, will be 67 when he sets sail from Falmouth on June 1, alongside more than 50 other competitors, for the first leg of the race to Sao Miguel – the largest island of the Azores archipelago - which is 1,500 miles west of the Portuguese coast.

Joining him for the double-handed voyage will be his “favourite sailing partner” – his 35 year old son John - with a plan to cross the Bay of Biscay and on to the Azores within 12 days for their stop-over in the capital of Ponta Delgada, before they race back home again.

“I sailed from an early age with my father, and John learned with me from a little boy, so we know we’ve no worries about our experience or how we’ll get on,” says Chris. “I really wanted a challenge after I retire and I’ve been planning to do the AZAB for the last three years. We are very fortunate to have such understanding and supportive wives – especially as John’s little boy will be only one when we set sail.”

Chris, known as “Chief” from all his years racing in the J24 fleet, joined Mylor’s marina team a decade ago after a long career in legal services. His one-day-a-week “retirement job” quickly turned into a full time Dock Master role, with his friendly expertise making him a popular and reassuring presence among boat owners and colleagues alike.

In his spare time Chris has been preparing Saphir for the AZAB race since he bought her three years ago, with substantial, ongoing help and advice along the way from the master-craftsman and technicians that make up Mylor Yacht Harbour’s Marine Team.

“Everyone has been really, really helpful and they’ve been literally on tap for information and advice and overseeing work I’ve done myself throughout this process,” says Chris. “From sand-blasting and preparing the bottom of the boat to installing solar panels and sourcing a new Volvo D130 engine – my Mylor colleagues couldn’t have been more willing to help.”

This sort of “over and above” care and attention has made Mylor a renowned centre of excellence among sailors prepping for races, regattas and extended voyages – be they heading towards the fierce competition of Falmouth Week to those who have made their boats their home.

“It’s been a real pleasure to be in a position to help Chris with his AZAB dream: he has been a wonderful colleague of ours for the last decade and we’re really routing for him and John on their big challenge.”

Chris will be retiring on his birthday, April 18, and Saphir will go into the water around the same time for a series of preparatory races and fine-tuning to make sure she – and her crew – are in peak condition for the race ahead.

Favourable winds and fair weather are high up Chris and John’s wish list: all those interested in following their progress will be able to do so via the AZAB website - https://azab.co.uk

For more information on how the Marine Team can help you maintain and fine tune your classic or modern boat, or for berthing at Mylor, call Mylor Yacht Harbour on 01326 372121 or visit www.mylor.com