Cyclades Regatta 2017: A peek into pre-race preparations
With its scattered archipelago of islands that number some 6,000, of which 227 are inhabited, and a long, hot summer, Greece has long been a much-loved sailing holiday destination.
But what few sailing enthusiasts beyond Greece realise is that the country plays host to an ever-expanding catalogue of sailing races throughout the year, most of which are part of the Hellenic Sailing Federation’s (EIO) race programme, including a number of week-long events.
And the best thing is that the sailing races are open to anyone, as long as your yacht meets all the requirements.
If you sail and want to race together with family members or friends, there are yacht charter companies in Greece that can facilitate arrangements.
Among the sailing races is the annual Cyclades Regatta, an offshore international sailing race organised by the Nautical Club of Tzitzifies and Kallithea (NOTK), which takes place over a week in July.
This year the event marked its 23rd year, and we joined in on all the fun of the regatta, held July 2 to 8, between the Cycladic islands of Kea, Syros, Paros, Serifos and Kythnos.
This was our very first week-long race and, not only were we able to participate as newbie racing crew on a yacht, but had the opportunity to get behind the scenes and see how an event like this is organised and run.
The day before the race, Carlo and I boarded Manouli Too, one of the two NOTK racing committee boats flying a bright orange flag bearing the letters RC in black, at Kallithea marina.
We motored over to Kea, to the sleepy port town of Korissia, situated on the island’s northwestern coast, from where the regatta was launched.
The 2017 edition of the Cyclades Regatta saw an impressive 51 yachts and 350 crewmembers participating, including a Dutch crew who berth their vessel at Kallithea and learnt about the event through the club. The crew of Far Side XL has since sailed in the regatta 13 times.
Five islands – the largest number so far covered in the event – and five race legs of reasonably short distances were involved.
Alexandros Theodoridis, director of offshore sailing at NOTK, explained that the length of race legs alternates year to year; shorter one year and longer the next. This year’s regatta featured shorter race legs.
Like other week-long sailing events held in Greece, the organisers of the Cyclades Regatta seek to combine the racing with social events, to bring crews together in the evenings and on rest days.
This event allows a full rest day between race legs, which means competitors can not only recover but do a little exploring of each island destination and go for a swim at one of the beaches.
Sailing race organisers in Greece are well aware of the importance of contributing to efforts to showcase lesser-known island destinations and aim to incorporate these in their schedules.
Certainly, sailing events benefit local communities, as they offer a significant boost to the local economy in the form of hotel and apartment room rentals, for crewmembers who choose to sleep ashore, and brisk business for restaurants, bars and stores.
View our video below which offers a peek into pre-race preparations, including the first skippers’ meeting at NOTK premises, and arrival at Kea, where a launch event was held as the sun went down.
Videography by Carlo Raciti www.carloraciti.com
Music credits: Readers! Do You Read by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…)