From August 23rd to 26th, the Straits of Gibraltar were the venue for The Great Gibraltar-Morocco charity yacht rally in aid of the Red Cross
Few postcards can be more idyllic than those which depict a fleet of boats elegantly sailing the waters, heading for some far or nearby port in the distance… and when it’s for a good cause, the picture is even more impactful.
This was the scene in the Straits of Gibraltar waters between August 23rd and 26th, thanks to the latest initiative by Boatshed Gibraltar, which brought together fifty yachts from Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and the United States.
The challenge? To set sail to the new Tanja Marina Bay resort, crossing the 30 miles that separate Gibraltar from the bay of Tangiers, in northern Morocco.
This year, the charity yacht rally was made possible thanks to the efforts of Boatshed Gibraltar, Alcaidesa Marina and Tanja Marina Bay who collaborated and sponsored this event.
According to a statement by the organisers, the event could not have taken place without the additional support of those in the Gibraltarian private sector who “recognise the value of a vibrant yacht sector in Gibraltar”; these included GibOil, Lewis Stagnetto & Co, Eroski and Masbro Insurance.
Rally participants competed for a number of prizes, including a watercolour painting by artist James Foot, a folding bicycle, a tour of Alcaidesa Marina and even a Watford Football Club T-shirt, autographed by their captain, Trevor Deeney, and his team. Alongside these prizes – and others planned for a draw – the main aim was just to participate… to enjoy completing the course and, above all, to raise a 5 figures sum (which came to £11,000 a couple of years ago) and donate it to the Red Cross in support of their humanitarian work.
The competition kicked off in the morning, Friday 23rd, starting from a buoy near the Gibraltar International Airport, providing a scene that many chose to admire (and photograph) from Gibraltar and La Línea. The conditions in the Bay were not ideal, with a strong easterly wind which prevented almost 50 percent of the fleet from setting sail, so that only half of those expected actually participated.
Even so, the weather improved over the weekend, and navigation went smoothly for those who had decided to brave the sea, using extreme caution in their manoeuvres.
In the end, 25 boats arrived in Tangiers, as confirmed to Reach by John Alcántara himself, who runs the organisation. The first to reach the African shore was a motorboat that took two hours to complete the voyage.
The one that took the longest, after an entire 8 hours of sailing, was a small sailboat.
“Tanja Marina Bay gave all the ships a traditional welcome of drum music, and the organisers spared either resources nor efforts to ensure that the stay in the marina was very pleasant for all the crews”, said Alcántara, who confirmed that on Monday 26th, the ships returned to their home ports.
Despite the difficulties, Alcántara was satisfied with the event, and trusts that this sporting and charitable meeting, which adds yet another important tourist attraction to the area, will continue for years to come.
“I believe that the future of the Gibraltar-Morocco rally has been assured now that we have sponsorship from Alcaidesa Marina, Tanja Marina Bay and the Boatshed Gibraltar organisation”, he said.
The Great Gibraltar-Morocco charity yacht rally in aid of the Red Cross