As so frequently observed on Sail-World Cruising, the number of rallies is growing remarkably round the world in both numbers and strength of participation. You can be based almost anywhere and find compatible cruising types to share experiences and then tell the tales later. For the 11th time, a rally dubbed the 'world's most sociable yacht rally' is departing from Gibraltar at the end of June, headed over the Straits to Morocco.
The dates are Friday 24 to Monday 27 June, and the event departs from Ocean Village marina at Gibraltar and offers a chance for non-racing sailors to get together on the water and cruise in company.
From the first Rally in 2004 when a petite throng of just nine boats sailed the Strait to Morocco, the event has grown significantly in popularity over the years. The 2011 Rally is expected to attract up to 50 participating yachts with boats coming from as far as Barbate to the west, and Marbella and Benalmádena to the east and individual entrants travelling from South Africa, Britain and the Caribbean just to get in on the fun.
The event starts in Gibraltar's Ocean Village on Thursday evening with the all-important skippers and crew briefing before 'bonding' with the competition in the many bars, restaurants, shops and even the Casino in the award-winning marina resort. Friday 25 June sees the yachts leaving 'en masse' at 1pm accompanied by HMS Sabre from the Royal Gibraltar Squadron before being left to their own devices in the Strait of Gibraltar - destination Marina Smir Morocco. Where else in the world can you sail from one continent to another in less than a day?
Upon arrival in Marina Smir, a full programme of events is drawn up for the participants but there is no obligation to participate at all. If you fancy chilling out with a novel on the foredeck of your yacht with only yourself as company, that's also fine, but there will be some serious fun missed. The festivities begin with Cepsa-sponsored cheese and wine welcome party followed by various dockside olympic games and competitions organised throughout the weekend.
A Rally highlight is certainly the Saturday evening prize-giving barbecue where trophies are awarded for many different accomplishments from fastest arrival to youngest skipper and smallest boat to the best ship's cocktail. Prizes are generously sponsored by local businesses - Ocean Village has been a firm supporter of the last five rallies and recognises its value to the local community.
Sunday could be spent doing absolutely nothing, heads are often sore and bodies slightly jaded. The more sprightly might venture to nearby Tetouan for a spot of sightseeing or perhaps further to the stunning town of Chefchaouen with its photogenic blue-rinsed buildings. Those completely lacking energy might prefer some pampering in the Spa hotel neighbouring Marina Smir - why not, you've earned it. Finally, on Monday 27 June, boats make their leisurely way back to Gibraltar full of memories of exotic Morocco, sailors' stories and a pledge to do it all again next year.
For more information on the Rally contact Derek Pennington on firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 00 350 540 06312. To stay up to date with all activities at Ocean Village join http://www.facebook.com/OceanVillageGibraltarOFFICIAL
or follow /OceanVillageGib?nid=84701