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Iles De Soleil Rally - An adventure for all sailing enthusiasts

by Véronique Largeau on 9 Oct 2012
Iles du Soleil © Pierrick Garenne / GPO
As declared at last September's Grand Pavois Boat Show, the organisation of the Iles de Soleil (RIDS) has changed hands. It is now the Grand Pavois Organisation (GPO) that will take on the responsibility for this extraordinary biannual adventure, beginning with the next edition in 2013. (See http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/Grand-Pavois-Organisation-to-manage-Rallye-des-Iles-du-Soleil/102563!Sail-World story)

GPO is honoured to be in charge of this new event 'this is a new adventure for us that fits in with the continuity of our activities in the pleasure boating and offshore racing domains. Our main objective is to get pleasure boats out on the water and this rally is an incredible opportunity for enthusiasts to do that. This Rally fits perfectly with our Grand Pavois event which aims to be the reference for sailing enthusiasts!' says Alain Pochon, President of the Grand Pavois association.

This rally was created by Georges Baurens and was first held in 1990. The original aim was, and still is, to allow sailing enthusiasts, in families, amongst friends or sporting amateurs to navigate in friendly and entirely safe conditions, in groups of two, three, four, five or more, and with one or a number of stopovers. Over a period of six months, the participants will discover different countries, peoples and cultures. The strength of this rally comes from the fact that this is a flotilla of around thirty boats navigating together with a discreet and reassuring structure around them keeping an eye on things, providing geosatellite positioning and rallying points where participants can exchange experiences, advice and information.

This is an incredible opportunity for anyone who has dreamed of adventure and setting sail on a great sea-crossing. With no organisational constraints apart from having enough available free time and one's own boat, itinerary and supplies. The stopovers, port logistics, birth reservations, administrative formalities, organisational structure, etc. are all taken care of by the organisation. This is a less restrictive and more reassuring way to navigate in countries which are generally more difficult to travel in alone, such as travelling up a part of the Amazon, which will be one of the major highlights of the crossing.

To join, you need to own your monohull or multihull sailing vessel, enough time and a crew. For security reasons there is a minimum accepted boat size of 30 feet. All boats must be in full compliance with the legislations of their port of origin, especially for ocean crossings. All vessels must be equipped with communications and safety systems: BLU, VHF, Iridium, etc... A tracking beacon will be made available by the organisers.

Such a voyage may sometimes be intimidating, posing many questions: what boat? What equipment? What paperwork needs to be done? What to do with the children? etc. The organisers thus offer to help participants in their preparations: Preparation guidelines, training, practical advice, administrative formalities… And for those who are not sure they want to commit to skippering such a long crossing, there will also be a pool of available crew members.

Newsletters at the stopovers, Internet site with exchanges of impressions, experiences, photos, videos... There will be a complete communication system in place to share this great adventure with as many people as possible; with family members at home, journalists or future participants for example.

Grand Pavois Organisation aims to get children to meet each other and exchange their experiences of daily life and their living environments, including any participating families with children aboard, children encountered at the stopovers, children from French or foreign schools selected amongst the participating vessels’ ports of origin. Visits to schools near the stopovers, encounters with children present in the rally, exchanges with European schools: the 2013 Iles de Soleil Rally will also be about sharing and discovery!

In 1990 the crossing departed from the Canary Islands for Brazil passing through the Cap Verde and the Canary archipelagos. Since the year 2000 the RIDS also travels up the Brazilian coast as far as the Amazon River. In 2013 the itinerary will be the same with a final stopover at Afuà in Brazil. Participants will then be able to choose to continue their voyage through the Caribbean or to return home.

The Rally's first major stopover, after setting sail from both La Rochelle (Atlantic/British Channel fleet) and le Ciotat (Mediterranean fleet), will be to join up at Madeira where the fleets can assemble for the rest of the adventure. The crossing of the Gulf of Gascon, for the 'Rochelais', and the Mediterranean, for the 'Ciotadens' will be an ideal occasion to test the crews and equipments. Then the participants will sail to the Canaries and Cap Verde before crossing the Atlantic for Salvador de Bahia, the Bay of all Saints, in Brazil. 1,600 miles passing through the legendary 'Doldrums' passage, the inter-tropical convergence zone, reference point for all navigators. The participants will then travel up the Brazilian coast as far as the Amazon River passing through Fernando de Noronha, the colourful Brazilian archipelago, Fortaleza, Belem...

The Amazon, a name that inspires both dreams and intrigue. The longest and most legendary river in the world running 6,5670 km with 1,100 tributaries. The participants will be able to discover its rich, diverse wild-life; the Amazon is home to a tenth of the 10 million species of living organisms on the planet! Participants will go from discovery to discovery along this 600 mile stretch from Belem, capital of the state of Parà and main port for the lower stretches of the river, to Afuà, the Isle of Marajo known as the Venice of the Amazon where all buildings are built on pilotis. Here they will see and experience the tiny water's edge villages, local habitants, plant-life and wildlife, on a true journey into uncharted territory. As you can see this rally offers a unique opportunity for incredible experiences, the discovery of new lands and incredible encounters.

The organisers will be honoured to receive you in the space reserved for the Iles de Soleil Rally on the Grand Pavois stand at the Paris Boat Show. There you will be able to gather all of the information that you need and talk to the organisational team, and maybe finalise your project and confirm your inscription.

Start of the rally: September 2013
Departure: La Rochelle (Atlantic/British Channel) and La Ciotat (Mediterranean)
Number of miles to be travelled: about 6,000 miles, i.e. more than 11,000 Kms
Itinerary: Two hemispheres - three continents - 15 stopovers... including Madeira, the Canary Islands, Cap Verde, Salvador de Bahia, Joao Pessoa, Fernando de Noronha, Fortaleza, Belém, Alter do Chao, Iles du Soleil website
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