(eTN) – Few opportunities arise which are as tempting to accept as spending two days on an ocean-going yacht and shadowing a catamaran ocean regatta from the closest possible positions.
An invitation by the Seychelles Tourism Board while on the archipelago to cover the presidential elections, however, did make this a reality and turned out to be the highlight of a recent visit to the islands.
Watching globally-renowned top skippers in a battle of wits and experience to slug it out against ocean currents and changing winds, treacherous swells and the cunning strategies of their opponents, beats watching any sporting event from the homely armchair, hands down.
Most of the invited guests on board the Le Kir Royal over the two days I sailed with her were knowledgeable sailors themselves, and directional changes attracted immediate comments from them, eyeing every move of the field through binoculars to observe the skippers and crews in action.
The weeklong regatta, which will see 7 separate races being run around the main island and across the sea to Praslin and La Digue to determine the overall winner, has attracted media interest not only from the local stations and papers but also the specialized sports news channels and from dedicated sailing magazines, which sent photojournalists to cover the event, which in turn is hoped to attract more up and coming new skippers measuring themselves against the old masters at the helm of their catamarans.
In the old days the Seychelles used to be a supply stop for the informal but economically hugely important race from Hong Kong to the UK, with the tea bearing tall ships in use in those days.
While discussing the regatta and related issues with the tourist board staff, an idea came up to once again bring back those tall ships for a race ending in the Seychelles or else alternatively starting from here. The beautiful weather and the backdrop of these magical islands would create a setting second to none for such an event and the remaining fleet of tall ships would probably queue up to sign the registration forms. What a coup that would be for the little island nation, which has grown to be recognized around the world as “Brand Seychelles” and not only reaffirmed its standing as an exotic paradise island get away in recent years but also made a new name for itself with the range of novel activities like the “carnival of carnivals,” aka the “Mother of all Carnivals,” which in 2012 will see its second editions coming up, larger and better still, if that is possible at all.
Meanwhile, the yachtsmen set out for their second leg, which will round part of Mahe from the Maia Luxury Resort to the Beau Vallon Bay for their second night stop, before heading across the ocean to Praslin and other islands for the longer races. The Le Kir Royal will be at hand to see it all, close up and personal, although this correspondent did this – the late afternoon disembark in Beau Vallon Bay – and left the rest of the invited guests to continue alongside the catamarans until they return on Saturday to Eden Island’s main marina outside Eden House for the prize-giving ceremony.
The second leg of the regatta was notably won again by Hyundai, while the Maia’s own Sealegs came in at a respectable third in their own catamaran, prompting some friendly banter over what had been put into the glasses of the other competitors the night before, but all in the best of spirits, of course, as can be expected from the yachting fraternity.
The Le Kir Royal is a 30-meter classic yacht with a crew of 6, sleeping a total of 8 passengers, and offers plenty of comfort for trips around the inner islands on a day trip or for longer periods, able to safely take them to all the inner islands, cast anchor overnight in a secluded bay, and give the travelers that extra bit of special treatment.
The yacht, which relocated from France’s Mediterranean coastline to the Seychelles via the Atlantic, can be booked via the MAIA Luxury Resort or by contacting them via the Kir Royal website.
Classy, classy comes to mind, and a stay at for instance the MAIA combined with a little cruise surely appeals to the most discerning travelers. In closing, the MAIA’s chefs did the catering on board for the duration of the regatta, assuring us invited guests of meals fit for kings and queens and their courts. I should know, I was there and am now spoiled forever – though some may disagree here and fire back “just spoiled some more.”