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Sailing: Gibraltar - Morocco Yacht Rally 2006

Gibraltar’s popular yacht rally attracts a new sponsor
One of Gibraltar’s most popular marine-based events, the Gibraltar – Morocco Yacht Rally, takes place over the weekend of 2 to 5 June. This is the fifth time that the Rally has been held and each year sees an increasing number of participants. The Rally is open to all sailing yachts and power cruisers and over 35 entrants are expected.

“This year’s event will be the best ever and we cordially invite anyone interested to contact us,” enthuses rally organiser Derek Pennington. “We have the backing this year of sponsorship from Ocean Village. Each entrant will receive crew clothing, a unique Rally pennant and we have arranged a great diary of events. But its not just about the crossing to Morocco – our Rally has the reputation of being the world’s most sociable yachting event.”
The Rally begins on Friday 2 June as yachts leave Marina Bay - there is a massed start off the North Mole at 1pm and one of the patrol boats of the Gibraltar Squadron will signal the start. Sailing yachts must have a sail up when crossing the start line but after this they can motor-sail if they want, or choose to sail all the way to Marina Smir in Morocco. Previous rallies have seen a variety of yachts take part - the smallest (and oldest at 70 years) was only 22 feet long and the largest were 65-foot yachts. And age is no barrier either with the oldest skipper at 79 years and the youngest 24 years. The majority of participating yachts are from Gibraltar but there are an increasing number of entrants from the Costa del Sol.

A whole programme of events has been organized, starting with skipper’s briefing at The Ship in Marina Bay on 1 June Thursday evening and, on arrival at Marina Smir, all participants are treated to a traditional Moroccan feast that evening. While in Marina Smir there will be a number of fun events including a dinghy race without the use of an engine or paddles and a sea survival test. A barbecue is held on Saturday night and the prize giving will take place at the same time. It is the organisers’ aim that every participating yacht should get some kind of prize. To that end there are all sorts of categories, for example, first yacht over the line, most sociable boat, first dolphin sighting, best ships cocktail!

The Marina Smir port captain is giving a Moroccan breakfast on Sunday as a thank you to all the Rally entrants and the rest of the day is free for visits to Tetouan, the Caves of Hercules and other places of interest.
“We are confident that our Rally, with Ocean Village’s endorsement, will grow in popularity and become the region’s top yachting event,” continues Derek Pennington. “In a way, it’s a great way of showing off Gibraltar to those yachtsmen who may not have considered Gibraltar as a yachting destination before. Ocean Village are also planning other marina and yachting events which is fantastic as we enjoy a brilliant location.”
The organizers say that Ocean Village’s involvement could not have come at a better time, following the recent announcement of their plans to purchase Marina Bay and continue their investment in the marina and surrounding facilities. It is their vision to improve the marina area and facilities to compete with other Spanish Mediterranean yacht marinas, which are often overcrowded, and promote Gibraltar as one of yachting’s prime destinations.

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