This Friday (12 June) sees the 15th yacht rally to Port Smir, Morocco, sponsored by Ocean Village and organised by Boatshed Gibraltar. Last year 34 yachts registered (although only 32 started), and there was a colourful backdrop as gunboat HMS Sabre, provided by the RN Gibraltar Squadron, provided the starting signals.
This year the event is getting bigger. HMS Scimitar will provide the starting and so far 40 boats have registered to take part. More will be welcome, although Boatshead owner John Alcantara warns that latecomers may not qualify for goodie bags, to be given out at the Skipper briefings. There will be two of these, a champagne reception on arrival in Morocco sponsored by Eroski Gibraltar and a dusk briefing with beer and canapés sponsored by Ocean Village.
At the time of writing it’s too early to predict the weather with any certainty, and it’s fair to say the event has had mixed luck in this area. Last year it was fine with light winds only. At the time of writing the forecast says light cloud, but this can change.
All comers have always been welcome. On the event’s Facebook page, Alcantara says: “Every seaworthy boat is welcome, whether sail, motor or powered by solar energy! The start will be given by a patrol boat from the RN Gibraltar Squadron at 13:00.” Unusually, Gibraltar has a public holiday for the Queen’s birthday this coming weekend, adding to the festive atmosphere as several Skippers and crews will have decided to stay in Morocco for an extra day.
The event is growing. Last year for the first time the organisers were able to donate £2000 to the Gibraltarian Red Cross, a target they’d like to exceed this year. Helping in this effort will be the addition of a charity auction for the first time this year, as crew getting to Smir (and only people completing the race) will bid for:
1. A free haul out/re-launch and three days hard standing at Isla Verde and free International anti-fouling paint. The organisers estimate that for a 12m yacht this represents nearly £1000 of value and a lot more for a larger yacht.
2. A Makita power tool combination pack with power drill, angle grinder and jig saw.
There will also be raffles of donated prizes including iPads and cameras.
The emphasis during the 25 nautical miles (40KM for the rest of us) is on safety of course but there’s a lot of fun involved too. Last year’s event was typical, with skippers calling in swiftly after the off to claim “First to Spot a Dolphin” prize as well as visiting the souks once in Morocco and claiming the “Biggest contribution to the Moroccan Economy” prize, in spite of everyone having agreed not to buy any rugs. There will be the customary fancy dress party on the evening of arrival, and people will leave on the Sunday or Monday.
Anyone interested in taking part will need to know entry fees, which go in their entirety to the Red Cross. These are £40 or €55 for yachts under 12m LOA and £50 or €65 for yachts over 12m LOA. Contact information and further details are available from the event’s Facebook page, where there is also a list of sponsors: https://www.facebook.com/events/789780397748249/ - the page being part of the reason the event gets called the “world’s most sociable rally”, although the briefings and post-event party on the 20th will help in that area too.
We are grateful to Boatshed Gibraltar for supplying pictures from last year’s rally.