The Gibraltar - Morocco Yacht Rally - "The Most Sociable Yacht Rally in the World".
The fourteenth edition of the Gibraltar - Morocco Yacht Rally took place on the weekend of the 27th June. A record 34 yachts entered, although two never made it to the start line. The RN Gibraltar Squadron kindly positioned a real gunboat, HMS Sabre, to provide the starting signals.
After months of planning by the organising committee led by Boatshed Gibraltar and the main sponsor Ocean Village and with further sponsorship from such generous sponsors as Gibraltar Tourist Office, Eroski, CEPSA and Giboil we can be proud of the achievement. Not only were we able to provide a North African weekend of undiluted fun but also managed to raise around £2000 (final figures still to come) from entry fees, extra T-shirt sales and raffle ticket sales.
The flotilla departed from the Bay of Gibraltar in very light winds escorted by a safety launch provided by Neptune Marine. We were soon getting radio reports of skippers claiming the "First to Spot a Dolphin Prize". From Citadel we had the privilege of seeing a school of dolphins adopt the yacht "Sirena Encantada" and escort her halfway across the Straits with an exuberant display of joy that only dolphins know how to do.
This year the entry procedures into Morocco were much smoother, for which we are very grateful to the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie. By late afternoon all the yachts were safely berthed on a pier especially reserved by Marina Smir for the participants. The ample hammerhead at the end of the pier became "party central" for the next 48 hours. Eroski kindly donated enough food and drink to ensure that a fantastic and memorable opening reception was enjoyed by all.
On the Saturday morning many of the yacht crews departed for the almost-obligatory tour of the souks at Tetouan or Chefchouen. All resolved not to buy carpets but there were multiple failures of resolve in front of expert Moroccan selling techniques! One yacht crew even winning a prize for "The Biggest Contribution to the Moroccan Economy" for precisely that! In fact this prize replaced the dolphin spotting prize due to the fact that practically every boat spotted dolphins within the first minutes due to the calm seas.
Saturday night is fancy dress and prize giving night. The crews did not disappoint with the some outrageous outfits. The list of prize winners is too long to list here but suffice to say that every yacht walked away with some prize or other.
If the southbound trip was in calm conditions Sunday,when most of the yachts returned, was marked with winds gusting to a force 7 mid-Strait. It was an exciting end to a fabulous weekend. All the yachts returned safely and maybe a little more experienced about the challenging sailing conditions one can find in the Straits of Gibraltar.
Next year we hope to have even more participants. Anyone reading this and wanting to join in should keep an eye on and "like" www.facebook.com/boatshedgib where next year's programme will be posted.