Following several years of preparatory work of building strong diplomatic connections with the participating countries, Africa Europe Challenge is to organize their first series of cruising events starting in October, 2014. The programs will be brought together by two crusing yacht rallies, the Europe-Morocco challenge 2014 and the Europe-Cape Verde Challenge 2014 which are officially opened for entries in June, 2014.
Africa Europe Challenge
In a nutshell, Africa-Europe Challenge is a series of different projects joined together by a large scale yachting event that is aimed to gradually evolve into a cruising rally that circumnavigates the continent of Africa.
The projects range from business forums to promote the economic progression between Africa and Europe, through marine biological research works, cultural and folk events and school programs.
The first leg of the cruising yacht rally will start on 18th October, 2014 in Cadiz, Spain and finish in Morocco. Boats will than depart for Tenerife, Canary Islands which is the finish of the Europe-Morocco Challenge. The Europe-Cape Verde Challenge will start on 16th November, 2014 in Tenerife and finish with a farewell party in Cape Verde on the 6th December, 2014.
Yachts have the opportunity to join either to the whole cruise from Cadiz to Mindelo or to any single leg(s) of the race. The entry documents are available for download under the 'Sailors' menu of the AEC webpage. The series of documents includes the detailed Notice of Race (NoR), an Entry Chart with entry fees and possible discounts and all the information needed for a valid entry.
The approximately 7-8 weeks program is brought together to meet the liking of cruisers mainly as opposed to professional competitors. During the race participants will visit 6=six exotic places where folk events, festivals and sightseeing programs will take place. According to the invitation flyer of the regattas, AEC lays the emphasis on the fun, on networking and most importantly on safe cruising rather than on the competition aspect. However, a handicap scoring system will be employed to match the different boats and attractive prizes are also offered by the sponsors. As the AEC staff offers continuous on- and offshore support, the race is convenient for all skill levels from newbies to experienced competitors at all ages.
'You might well be aware of the fact that there is a huge migration of cruising sailboats starting in October each year heading South from Europe than across the Atlantic to the Caribbean Sea. The reason why we plan to kick off AEC by these two rallies is the fact that we believe there is a great opportunity to address this 600-800 boats in Europe and channel them into our program. The great success of the World Cruising Club with their ARC regatta with over 250 participating vessels each year also seems to justify the feasibility of this concept.' – said Mr. József Gál (two times circumnavigator, founding partner of AEC) at the AEC press conference in Budapest regarding the target group of the rally. 'I know, we are a bit late with our opening for entries, but for this first year our main priority is to kick off these annually repeated regattas. We will be satisfied If 30-50 boats will come, which, considering the facts I’ve just mentioned seems to be a realistic target' - he continued.
To a question on the possible participation of tall ships on AEC events, Mr. Peter Kondricz (international lawyer, founding partner of AEC) replied: 'Our aim is to gradually grow AEC programs into a large scale festival week at each of the stopovers, arranged each year, based on the yacht rally. In order to make these events more colorful and attractive both for participants and spectators we would like to invite approx. half a dozen of Tall Ships too in the future and we have already started negotiations about it with Sail Training International. As we picture mutual advantages, the participating Tall Ships may benefit from the extra programs, organized by AEC, they can offer for their crews as well as from the media coverage generated by AEC, while the presence of Tall Ships will raise the quality of AEC events.'
As is known, Morocco fell out of the popular cruising destinations owing to the poor harboring facilities of the country. 'This situation is about coming to an end, Morocco wants to open for cruisers!' Said Mr. Gál. 'There is a huge urban development project underway called Casablanca Marina including residential properties, business centers and of course a most modern Marina attached to it. We are very lucky to be the very first regatta that has the opportunity to invite the cruising community to Morocco. Last time when I made a visit there in April 2014, we concluded a partnership agreement with Morocco Sail who has great connections to the Marina Casablanca project leaders, to the Navy who is currently authorizing the harbor there, the town leadership and the Ministry of Tourism too' – he added.
It is indisputable that Africa Europe Challenge is bringing a new and shiny color to the palette of the regattas for cruisers by kicking off their first two challenges. Their well thought programs on- and offshore, the lovely destinations and the tremendous amount of work behind it can guarantee nothing else but success. If you are cruising in the area this autumn we highly encourage you to check out their website for more details and make sure you don’t miss their early booking discount!