On 14 April 2006 over 500 sailors left Tel Aviv and Herzliya marinas in Israel and headed across the Mediterranean for Port Said. Ninety yachts made up the second Med-Red Rally, a very international event that attracted entries from Turkey, USA, France, Belgium, Russia, South Africa, Great Britain, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
Many of the yachts, usually wintering in Turkey, gathered in Marmaris and began the first leg of the rally, from Turkey to Tel Aviv, together on 07 April.
In Israel, rally crews celebrated the Passover Eve holiday at the homes of Israeli sailors. They were introduced to the Jewish custom of reading the 'Hagadda' and ate all the traditional Passover foods, including 'Maza'. This was a shore party with a difference, and it helped create among the fleet a family atmosphere that lasted to the end of teh Rally. Visiting crew also spent a day sightseeing in Jerusalem.
While a few dozen boats limited themselves to the leg ending in Port Said, fifty-four carried on through the Suez Canal to Abu Tig marina at the stunning southern Egyptian resort of El Gouna.
Rally organizers are waiting for confirmation from the Guinness Book of Records that this was the biggest-ever convoy of sailing yachts to transit the Suez Canal.
The Med-Red Rally aims to bring the sport of sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean to international attention, sport that goes beyond borders and brings good news, rather than conflicts, from the Middle East and Africa.
Med-Red 2006 especially wanted to open up this part of the Med, the Canal and the Gulf of Suez to as many yachtsmen as possible and show off its beauty with the vision to enlarge the rally year by year by bringing more and more participants to take part in this exiting event. It also gives sailors the opportunity to sail together in a flotilla in unfamiliar waters during the 'off' season in Europe.
After clearing the port of Suez, and followed by a family of dolphins, the Rally headed south for a landfall at Tawila, a private island of bare, white beaches relatively unknown to yachtsmen. The Med-Red Rally had special permission to use this beautiful private spot for swimming, snorkeling and a beach party.
Abu Tig Marina at El Gouna was by far the most beautiful place in the rally itinerary. El Gouna is a brand new resort with a well-designed marina and first class facilities, shops and restaurants.
The weather conditions did not allow the rally to continue to Sharm El Sheikh, so participants enjoyed two extra nights in this friendly marina on the coast of Africa, celebrating Easter in Egyptian style with belly dancers and local shows. Yachtsmen also took the opportunity to dive in the Red Sea.
From El-Gouan the Rally participants took a two-days (and several thousand years') tour to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, including a felucca boat race on the Nile.
The closing ceremony on 3 May was yet another unforgettable day! All the Rally yachts were joined by an additional 150 craft and a flotilla of Israeli Navy ships to salute each other off Tel Aviv as part of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations.
Registration is now open for Med-Red 2007, for which the organizers hope to attract more international participants. We promise that the Med-Red Rally will be just as exciting in 2007!