Asia is gearing up as a great place to go rallying for the cruising sailor. On right now is the latest rally, the Inaugural Sabang International Ragatta being held between the 15th and 25th September.
Twenty sailing and motor yachts have embarked on the 265 nautical mile event which has both a race and a rally included. The route leads across the Northern reaches of the Malacca Strait from Langkawi, North West Malaysia to Sabang on Weh Island, Northern Sumatra.
The Royal Langkawi Yacht Club has coordinated proceedings along with the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of Indonesia with technical assistance from the Indonesia Sailing Federation (PORLASI).
The regatta is aimed to promote Sabang and the Aceh Province, which has been re-built after the 2004 Tsunami and boasts having scenic natural beauty, beaches, forests, coral reef and a long seafaring history, which no doubt will thoroughly entertain crews during their stay.
The fleet has been divided into four categories - IRC, Multihull's, Cruisers and Motor Yachts, mostly corresponding with whether the yachts want to race or rally. Most the yachts are not normally found on entry lists at major regattas in the region as their boats are not suited to round the buoys racing - or they have other pleasures in mind when they sail.
Many crews prefer long distance racing or cruising that produce good camaraderie amongst the troops onboard the yachts and new found friendships through cultural exchanges especially in neighbouring regions.
The six boats in the Cruising Class range from 8.5 to 14 meters in length and come from a variety of nations. They are New Zealand boats Island Time and Jellyfish, Sidiqi from the USA, British-registered Thumbs Up, L'Hexagone currently based in Phuket and Aqva from Italy.
On arrival in Sabang, expected to be today (21st September) there will be a grand welcome, with both formal and informal events, music, fashion shows, a sail past. In the couple of days to come the program will have everything from jungle tracking to traditional skill demonstrations to celebration dinners in the evening.
For more details on both the race and the rally and a full schedule of events, go to the event's website?nid=88692