Gibraltar - Morocco Rally 2011
The annual Gibraltar-Morocco Rally departed local waters at 13:00 on Friday 24th June. This year the fleet was a little smaller than last year but this was more than compensated by the camaraderie of the yachting fraternity. Many yachtsmen flew in from far flung destinations to join local enthusiasts.
The start line was between the RAF centreline marker and HMS Sabre. Ten minutes before the starting horn HMS Sabre tore off into the Straits at high speed, another Spanish incursion perhaps? Sabre returned to the start line at exactly 1300 and the long blast of her horn was mistaken by some as the starting signal instead of the 5 minute warning. Any confusion was quickly dispelled when it became clear that the off had in fact been sounded.
The easterly breeze created some challenging conditions in the Bay with strong and rapidly changing gusts. Once out past Europa Point the easterly provided great sailing as the fleet headed for Punta Almina east of Ceuta. The Boatshed Gibraltar crew sailing a beautiful Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 called Bajavento romped along at 9.5 knots in a close reach. Just beyond Punta Alina a pirate sloop, the Songbird, was sighted and she was engaged with all guns scoring two direct hits with water bombs! On the way across we saw dolphins, sunfish and a turtle.
Most of the fleet arrived in Smir by 1900 although this being "the most sociable sailing rally in the World" there is even a prize for the last arrival which was scooped up by two young guys on the yacht "Pickles". After all the fleet was safely berthed in Port Smir Friday evening was given to a wine and cheese party. The organisers who overestimated the size of the fleet and the size of crew stomachs I suspect will be eating small squares of cheese well into next weekend!
When you eat cheese and drink wine late into the night it is no surprise that there are few early starters for the complimentary breakfast at the Monochrome Cafe. Saturday afternoon is traditionally given to fiendish party games. Some crews escaped to sample the delights of the Tetouan souk. They returned laden with Moroccan carpets and only some canny shoppers managed to escape with a token purchase of couscous spices!
Saturday evening is given to a fancy dress party. We were all shocked to discover that Elvis is alive and well in Port Smir and has been joined in the Hall of the Famous Undead by Osama bin Laden. I know that there are many doubting Thomases out there so I have provided documentary evidence in the form of a photo where you will also see Elvis (2 off), OBL and Col. Gadaffi"s personal nurse who was spending the weekend at Port Smir. For some inexplicable reason the two guys in the camel outfit were overlooked for any of the fancy dress prizes. It's an injustice! This year they even brought along a camel man. The camel man's liking for beer was their undoing as they were all disqualified!
Prize giving is a long affair as there are even prizes for just being a newcomer. So there is no reason for not taking part next year either with your own boat (Boatshed Gibraltar can help with this) or as crew for any of the many yachts taking part.
We had a great sail back on Sunday afternoon because not only did we see our second turtle but we were all dumbstruck to see two swordfish breeching in what was clearly a hunting activity.
The organisers would like to thank the many sponsors who supported this event. The list is too long to mention so have a look at the sandwich board photo.