Entries are now open for the first edition of the Sail Maldives yacht rally – set to be one of the most exotic and spectacular events of its kind. The Indian Ocean archipelago is gearing up to welcome participants from around the world to its 26 sun-soaked atolls, famous for their gin-clear waters and powdered sugar beaches.
The north-to-south rally, which takes over a month to complete, commences on 20th January 2017 at Uligamu in Haa Alif Atoll. Participants will stop at various islands along the way and there will be a scheduled stop at a checkpoint in Baa Atoll (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve), before the vessels continue south, crossing the equator via the Zero Degree Channel. The rally concludes in the Maldives’ most southerly atoll, Addu Atoll, where the British established a military base during World War Two due to its deep, safe natural harbour.
Uligamu is well-known for its port which is frequently used by yachts en route between the Middle East and Asia. But this north-western outpost in the Indian Ocean has been a maritime hub for centuries. In fact, Sail Maldives participants will be chartering one of the ancient Spice Routes used by traders since as long ago as 2,000BC. As such, the Maldives has a rich history of welcoming seafarers as well as celebrating its own unique island traditions. This is something reflected in the thrilling Sail Maldives programme.
At the pre-rally registration in Uligamu, participants will receive immigration and customs clearance and be issued with “Sail Maldives” goodies, information booklets and route maps. They will also be invited to one of the Maldives’ exclusive five-star resorts for the opening ceremony and a meal with fellow participants.
The rally will take around 45 days, with participants navigating the reefs and channels of this nation of 1,190 tiny islands. Although the Maldives is positioned in the Indian Ocean, technically it occupies an area of the Indian Ocean called the Laccadive Sea, which also borders India, Sri Lanka and the Lakshadweep islands.
Each island the participants stop at is hosting a festival in their honour, which includes music and cultural shows. Information huts will also offer concierge services.
Referred to as “inhabited islands”, these islands do not have any resorts (which are only found on private islands). Instead, they are populated by village communities. This will give everyone taking part in Sail Maldives a unique opportunity to experience the “true” Maldivian culture.
Organised excursions are amongst the special events laid on for rally participants including snorkelling trips and the opportunity to see the world-famous Hanifaru Bay. At the conclusion of the rally, the Marine Festival in Addu City will include beach games, in the spirit of this playful tropical island nation.
The event is being organised by a company which specialises in bespoke travel and tourism services, Luxury Collections, in cooperation with the local authorities and island communities.
Luxury Collections CEO & Founder, Adeel Ahmed, said: “We want everyone to experience the beauty of the Maldives. The Sail Maldives yacht rally is an ideal opportunity to explore the country the very best way possible – by sea.
“It will also open a window into a world which most outsiders don’t usually get to see; the day-to-day life of Maldivians in rural island communities. We have a unique culture and identity which we are proud of and happy to share with the rest of the world. Maldivians are known for their friendliness and warmth and we are looking forward to welcoming participants from all around the world.”
Sarah Harvey, Director of PR & Marketing, added: “The Maldives is the perfect destination for yachting and the Sail Maldives rally is one of the most exciting events the Maldives has ever hosted. The territory of the Maldives is 99% water and has 1,190 islands, so what better way to discover the country.”
For more information and to register for Sail Maldives visit www.sailmaldives.net