This year will see the 15th edition of the annual Gibraltar – Morocco Smir Yacht Rally taking place around the long Bank Holiday weekend from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th//Monday 15th June. Since its inauguration in 2000, the Rally has been building each year in both popularity and success and, for the first time, in 2014 the Rally Committee was able to make a sizeable charitable donation of just over £2,000 to the Gibraltar Branch of the Red Cross.
This was largely made possible due to a great team of sponsors for the event, led by Ocean Village and Boatshed Gibraltar, supported by generous donations from the Gibraltar Tourist Board, Eroski, CEPSA, GibOil and many other local businesses.
Now, as we leave winter behind, the Committee is up and running once again and working hard to build on last year’s success, with Ocean Village and Boatshed Gibraltar having agreed to be main sponsors again for the event.
The Rally is seen as a kick start to the summer sailing calendar and, over the last few years, has grown in reputation, such that it has been dubbed one of the world’s most sociable Rallies. While initially it was mainly the yachting fraternity which took part, the event has since diversified to also include power boats and last year saw a record entry of around 34 boats of all sizes. The event traditionally gets underway on the Thursday evening before the race, with the Skipper’s briefing which this year will take place again at Dusk Champagne Bar in Ocean Village. All skippers and crew are encouraged to attend this important briefing which includes the programme of events for the weekend, a chat about the safety issues and the weather to be expected en route. A free bag of goodies goes to every boat entry which includes the now coveted Skippers Rally Polo-shirt – while it also offers an opportunity for some camaraderie over the generously donated drinks and nibbles.
On Friday at 1pm, there is some friendly jostling for best position at the starting line – located between the Runway and the Centre Buoy – with the MOD kindly providing a RHIB or, as last year, HMS Sabre was made available to sound the starting klaxon with the sail boats off first, quickly overtaken by the slightly delayed motor contingency. Last year’s weather proved a challenge for the start of the journey to Smir with some sail boats becalmed and having to resort to a little engine power to get them well out into the Strait and into what little breeze was available. The sometimes fickle weather can depict the time of arrival, though the majority of boats normally make it into Smir in time for the popular evening sponsored ‘meet and greet’ wine and cheese party. This arrival event marks the start of a very sociable weekend, with the Saturday morning given up to free time and while some people drift off to the nearest beach, others take the opportunity to visit M’Diq or Tetouan and the local souk. Some fun and games are made available late afternoon, while in the evening the ever popular and much anticipated fancy dress party takes place along with the coveted prize giving – with all prizes donated by local businesses – and awarded for everything from the fastest boat in, to the youngest skipper and best fancy dress etc. On Sunday, the boats begin to drift off slowly for home, although others take advantage of the discounted berthing offered in Smir to stay an extra night and extend the trip to a little sight-seeing. This option may be particularly popular this year with the added benefit of the Bank Holiday Monday.
It’s not too late if you would like to be one of the generous sponsors for the 2015 rally, or perhaps you’d like to take part as a skipper or crew. Either way, you can find full details of this year’s event on the Boatshed Gibraltar Facebook page. We look forward to seeing you in June!