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Back to basics boat race sets sail on New Year's Day

by David Ferguson 23 Dec 2018 09:45 PST 1 January 2019

Whilst most of us nurse hangovers, New Year's Day in Zanzibar sees 22 teams, made up of 66 sailors, set sail in one of the world's most basic, yet exciting, races.

The sixth edition of the Kraken Cup (previously called the Ngalawa Cup) is expected to take around eight days, depending on weather conditions, and winds its way 500km around the coast of Tanzania, between the Zanzibar Archipelago and the stunning Lindi region, taking in some of best sailing in the Indian Ocean.

In the modern age of fibreglass hulls and carbon fibre sails, the Kraken Cup strips things back to basics and really tests the seamanship of sailors, through the use of ngalawas, traditional African fishing boats whose hulls are carved by hand from mango trees and have a couple of outriggers lashed on.

This January's race sees the biggest field to date lining up at the start and has a genuinely international feel to it. The organisers, The Adventurists, are hoping for a close fought race, the last edition being won by The Mast & The Furious, who had Toby Scregg from Britain (the youngest participant in the race) at their helm.

"The last edition of the race was brilliant and saw a really close finish, but with some really quality sailors lined up this year we're expecting a nail-biting race throughout," says Matthew Dickens of The Adventurists.

It's not just sailing experience that will determine the final winners though. The race course is made up of a series of compulsory checkpoints and a couple of 'free-sailing' sections, where sailors will not only have to contend with the challenges of sailing ngalawas but also find somewhere to sleep for the night: roughing it on uninhabited islets, camping on islands with inquisitive locals or staying in a traditional fishing village. Racers are encouraged to 'bring a hammock and a healthy dose of bravery'.

To follow the race, from the comfort of your armchair, head to www.theadventurists.com

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