It must be the most remote rally anywhere in the world, and it's on again. The Fifth Louisiades Yacht Rally is being held in September 2012. The Louisiades Archipelago is 100 nautical miles east of 'mainland' Papua New Guinea, 520 nautical miles north-east of Cairns in Australia.
A Louisiades Rally - children as the stars
It comprises 100 beautiful islands with a friendly people living a very simple life who welcome cruising yachts. There are sand cays, lagoon reefs, limestone outcrops (up lifted coral reefs) and continental islands with many safe anchorages. With abundant coral reefs there is snorkelling, diving and fishing galore. The local people are exceptionally welcoming to yachts and will paddle out to welcome yachts and, of course, trade.
The Rally comprises a fantastic destination with a cruise in company across the Coral Sea. While each skipper is responsiblr for their own timing, there are four weeks planned throughout the spectacular Louisiades, with a mix of events and time for independent exploration of the islands and their friendly communities.
To join this rally you have to get yourself and a boat - whether yours or chartered in Australia - to Cairns in North Queensland. After safety and navigation briefings, the Rally leaves from Cairns and arrives at the uninhabited Duchateau Islands where they are often welcomed by local fishermen in their Sailau’s (traditional sailing canoes).
A few days of rest after the passage and sundowner barbeques then onto the spectacular Panasia Island and its narrow reef entrance and sheltered lagoon. Panasia has a spectacular limestone cave and the nearby little Panasia a skull cave which the yachties visit.
The Yachts then move onto Nivani Island for the Panapompom Cane regatta, this involves the traditional sailaus in some serious racing, then the yachties get to sail on the sailaus...then next day it’s the locals turn as all the yachts load up with newfound friends for a fun race.
The boats have a week or so of independent exploration, some going to the famous Kamataal 'yacht club' before meeting back up for the Bagaman muster, a great singsing day and handicraft market. A beach party at Blue Lagoon and then a traditional lifestyle/cultural day at Pananumarra Island before the yachts move on to the only town, Bwagoia on Misima Island.
Formalities are completed and the Misima Showcase Festival is held in the yachties honour! Another week of independent exploration and the sailors meet back up at Nimowa Mission where school and clinic visits, a remote river trip and sports afternoon are planned. The rally concludes with a final party at Wanim Island.
What makes the Louisiades and the Rally so special are the local people. They put on a huge welcome for Rally yachts and there are many activities and opportunities during the Rally which are truly unique. The local folk have little and whilst happy, live in comparative 'poverty'. The Rally aims to contribute to the community by paying for events and activities and also has a community benefit program. To date the visiting yachts have provided tens of thousands of dollars to support a marine Ambulance, clinics at Nimowa and Paneati, provided water tanks for villages and taken up tons of school and medical supplies and clothes.
The Rally was first established in 2007 by Guy Chester of EcoSustainAbility, with the sponsorship and support of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority.
The Rally invites monos, multis, power and sail. No-one is 'hullist' or 'engineist'...well not too much! A wide range of vessels have joined the rally to date. Many monohull yachts from new fibreglass production boats (such as Jeanneaus, Bavarias, Benateaus and Hunters) to older steel and ferro yachts. Many sailing catamarans have participated with Crowther, Catanas, Perry, Lightwave, Schionning and Leopard among the models. Motor yachts have also participated, with an 18 metre Riviera and 20 meter Crelock having been on two Rallies.
The Rally provides support for those with little offshore experience, and also has proven popular with those with great offshore experience.
Come Along in 2012:
The 2011 rally was enjoyed by all, in the words of the crew from 2009 Rally yacht, Tribal: 'Its been a life changing experience.' The 2012 Rally leaves Cairns (Yorkeys Knob Boating Club) in mid September.
The Rally is sponsored by Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, supported by Yorkeys Knob Boating Club and organised by EcoSustainAbility.
Further information from Guy Chester
+61 (0)407 391211