For a chilled weekend away from the hurly-burly, exploring another coastline with old friends and new, it’s essential to pen the dates of the Gibraltar-Morocco Rally into the diary – Friday 24 to Monday 27 June. Dubbed ‘the world’s most sociable yacht rally’ and now in its 11th year, the event departs from Ocean Village marina and offers a chance for non-racing sailors and motorboaters 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 guests’ delectation 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 http://twitter.com/#!/OceanVillageGib.
To see some reports and videos of previous years – seee below:
The Boatshed crew enjoy the rally – http://dunlaoghaire.boatshed.com/gibraltar-to-port-smir-morocco-yacht-rally–2010-blog-4545.html
About Ocean Village – More than a marina, Ocean Village is an all-encompassing resort with three iconic residential plazas, executive office facilities, international retail outlets and plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants. The residential plazas which tower up to 17 storeys are iconic amongst Gibraltar’s skyline with their blue glass-cloaked terracing offering views across the Straits to the mountains of North Africa. Sharing an oasis of seven swimming pools set in sub tropical gardens, as well as an on-site Health Club, these homes are popular with the local market and expat newcomers alike. At the heart of Ocean Village is Leisure Island, a massive land reclamation project which accommodates Café Fresco, trendy Savannah restaurant-come-nightclub and a traditional O’Reilly’s Irish Bar. The Island is also the location for Leisure Island Business Centre and the first Gala Coral facility to house a casino, bingo club and sports betting zone under one roof.