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Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally – in the 'Bucket List of Races'

by Robyn Dix on 15 Aug 2011
Robyn Dix
The Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally 2011 has been a wonderful chance to visit the amazing Spice Islands of Indonesia and explore some of the amazing 17,000 islands of the Indonesian Archipelago.

The Race takes yachts north through the Arafura Sea to the Indonesian island of Sermata which lies east of Timor Leste. Next, it’s the depths of the Banda Sea for the 634nm race to the island of Ambon. Yachts take great advantage of the SE Trade Winds, following sea, and tropical climate to enjoy the 'champagne sailing'. The hills around Ambon can rein the breezes to a zephyr – a half a knot ebbing tide can then become a major obstacle to reaching the finishing line, as some of the yachts found this year taking 3 ½ hours to cover the 6nm from the harbour entrance.

The 2011 Race attracted a large racing fleet, including national, international yachts, as well as the local crowd. Some of the racing fleet began the year racing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Australia Day – Geelong Race Week, and the Fremantle to Bali Race, before arriving in Darwin to compete in the Round the Islands Yacht Race and Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally. After the festivities and presentation in Ambon, some of the racing yachts will head west to the Phuket King’s Cup – completing an amazing racing circuit for 2011.

The event also encouraged a rally fleet, welcoming all sailors, with some cruising yachts this year sailing in the Darwin Dili Yacht Race before arriving in Ambon for clearance into Indonesia and to join the celebrations. After the celebrations in Ambon, yachts will spend their time cruising the wonderful islands, some heading north to the Philippines and Borneo, or west to Bali and beyond, while others will return the slow route to Darwin via the Banda Islands and Tanimbar Islands.

Racing Monohull (IRC) Division, Racing Multihull Division, Racing Cruising Monohull Division or Rally Division, all yachts enter the event as an opportunity to process their travel documents with an Indonesian Customs Bond Exemption Certificate, and to journey onwards to explore some of the amazing 17,000 islands of the Indonesian Archipelago. The options are many from volcanic islands intermingled with coral atolls, to old forts and villages to explore with breathtaking scenery, as well as ancient trading villages of lucrative spice, timber and fishing trades. There are also many World War II wrecks and coral reefs to make the area a diver’s paradise. The pace is slow and the travel partners are many.


Darwin Race Week 2011 began with a Cocktail Party at the Darwin City Council to celebrate the long running Sister City Event with Ambon City, followed with Race Briefing and BBQ at DBCYA, including the NT Government Reception at Parliament House to celebrate and thank our major sponsors, and finished with a Wonderful Maluku Evening at the Indonesian Embassy with music, dance, food and friendships with our Indonesian Consul partners. Participants had many opportunities to meet, share their stories, build friendships and begin to plan their weeks ahead sailing through Indonesia.

The spinnaker start for the 2011 Race began off Stokes Hill Wharf on the 23 July at 1100hrs. The Official Start Boat was the HMAS Ararat providing the starting line, gun, flags and great vantage for the VIP sponsors to send the fleet of 634nm, to the village of Amahusu in Ambon Harbour, with champagne.

For the 2011 event, the committee implemented the use of Yacht Trackers. The trackers not only allowed greater safety, but also allowed those back home and across the world to be an active participant of the race. Many comments were sent through to the Race Office with people speculating on the conditions the fleet faced. One follower commented 'It looks like Australian Maid is anchored at Pulau Damar, Shady Lady and Wicked have gone fishing off the NW tip of Bathurst Island, and Maralinga has been towing Pandora for some time!' The Yacht Trackers proved to be a great success – even one 'Anxious Father' of 86 years was able to follow his son all the way to Ambon Harbour – and know he had arrived safely.


Festivities and celebrations continued with Ambon Race Week 2011. The Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally is proudly sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia together with the Ambon City Government. The people of Ambon City, and especially the Village of Amahusu, are very proud to share their culture and friendship with all the participants.

The Welcoming Ceremony began with a Becak Tour of Ambon City, awards for first, second and third over the Finish Line, and the presentation of gifts to the three Primary Schools of Amahusu Village. Dancing, music, much laughter and good food followed where the participants mingled and shared their stories, their blow-outs and adventures.

The Mayor’s Reception & Gala Dinner for the participants was held at the beautiful and rich residence of the Mayor of Ambon City, and hosted by the Mayor of Ambon City, Bapak Papilaya. Bintang was the sponsor of the evening much to the delight of the yachties!

The final celebration to the weeks of preparation, building friendships and the challenge to sail 634nm from Darwin to Ambon was the Presentation Ceremony. Winning Line Honours in Ambon for 2011 is Fantasia, Skipper Andrew Srtansky.

Special Line Honours for Racing Monohull Division is Walk on the Wildside, Skipper Garth Curren in a new race record time of 64:05:22. Garth defended his title from 1997.

Gameset, Skipper John Mulkearns, winner of the 1996 Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race aboard Andromeda, returned to take out first on Handicap Racing Monohull (IRC) Division.

Kind of Blue, Skippers Dick and Anita Waaij, won the first on Handicap Racing Cruising Monohull Division and represented the international fleet from the Netherlands. Kind of Blue has crossed 2 oceans, sailing 37,000nm and some regattas on the way.

Walk on the Wildside, Skipper Garth Curren, also won first Yacht Over the Start Line, just beating his nearest competitor by seconds.

Raucous, Skipper Bob Coleman, won the DBCYA Commodore’s Trophy for the best dressed yacht.

Wicked, Skipper Dan Foley, won the Rally Trophy for his outstanding efforts to arrive in Ambon Harbour. Awards were presented, tributes were made and congratulations were given to all participants, supporters and partners.


The Presentation Ceremony was the final, official function for the race participants of 2011 – but, the adventures are just beginning. The Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally is being listed by many participants in 'the bucket list of yacht races' – promises to return and wagers were set for next year’s race. But, in the meantime, friendships will take yachties to many neighbouring islands and other fantastic destinations throughout the Maluku Province and Indonesian Archipelago.

To all the skippers and crew of the 2011 event, thanks for another great event. We would love to hear your stories, publish your blogs, photos and share your wonderful experiences with interested yachties, and those planning to join the Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally 2012. Send us an email: robyn@darwinambonrace.com.au



For all information, enquiries about the event or expressions of interest for 2012's fabulous Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race & Rally visit our:
Website - www.darwinambonrace.com.au Check out 2012 Race Information
Contact - info(at)darwinambonrace.com.au or robyn(at)darwinambonrace.com.au
Join the conversations on Facebook - www.facebook.com/darwinambonrace

Check out our Partners:
DBCYA - www.dinahbeachcya.com.au
Sail Maluku Archipelago – www.sailmalukuarchipelago.com

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