More then 60 boats are waiting at the marina in Plomari, Mytilini. The Aegean Regatta is an event conceived by the Greek Ministry of the Aegean and organized by the Offshore Racing Committee of the Hellenic Sailing Federation.
The idea was to create a regatta that would combine a high level offshore sailing event with a series of cultural activities. So far it seems that so the goals have been achieved.
62 boats, 20 IMS and 42 ORC have already registered for the regatta. Amongst them one can find some of the most prominent Greek sailing boats and skippers. The boat to beat will be George Andreadis's ILC 40 "Atalanti IX", which is now IMS optimized. The decision to choose the ILC 40, to the Archambault's Sprint 50 "Meliti II" was based on the fact that it is expected that most of the regatta will be sailed downwind, with periods of light winds.
Stavros Tzavalos's IMX 38 "Erytos-Lancya Lybra", driven by Kostas Manthos, a twice Olympian in the Finn and Star Class and last years winner of the Aegean Rally, is also one of the favorites, though Theo Tsoulfas, brother of Emilia Tsoulfa, the 470 world champion, on the IMX 38 Notos Alpha Card, winner of last years North Aegean Cup, will be a hard contender.
The IMX 38 boats have dominated the Greek IMS fleet for a long time now, but in this regatta this could change, as the downwind legs will give an advantage to some other boats, like the Mount Gays 30, "Panafon-Heavy Weights" and "Red Hot". George Sykaris' Dufour Trophy 334, having won the Cyclades Rally in early July, in mostly downwind conditions is also looking in good shape for the Aegean Regatta.
In the ORC division there are many contenders for the first places. One should take into account that there is a strong ORC fleet in Mytilini, and the local knowledge will give them a strong advantage. The boat with the best standings in the ORC fleet is the Jeanneau Sun Shine "Nefi-Lalizas SA", which won the Ionian Rally and was second in the Cyclades Rally. Though this time it is not sailed by its usual crew, it seems to have a very good potential. Of course "De Mar a Mar", a Gib Sea 105 has also exhibited very good standings during the last year.
One initiative of the Aegean Regatta and the Ministry of the Aegean is that it has provided boats for free, for foreign crews, in order to promote sailing in Greece. This action was taken in order to face the problem of the transportation of the boats from abroad Another important feature of this regatta is that for the first time in the history of sailing in Greece a ministry has subsidized some of the participants, according to a Ranking List by the Offshore Racing Committee. This was done in order to tempt some of the "professionals" to sail in the periphery and help upgrade the sport, by showing their skills to less experienced sailors. In the same spirit, the Greek Offshore Committee has organized seminars regarding topics such as measurement, rules, race organization and administration and tactics. This program has been accepted very well by the local yacht clubs and owners.
According to the Chairman of the Offshore Racing Committee Dr. Akis Tsalikis: "The Aegean Regatta has proved to be a great opportunity in order to increase public awareness and technical know how regarding offshore sailing in the periphery".
The Aegean Regatta features many cultural events, on the stopovers. "The Aegean Regatta is simply a sailing race. It is the continuation of a fruitful tradition and emphasizes two of the most important exports of Greece: sports and culture!" noted the Minister of the Aegean Nick Sifounakis. Today, (18th) the cultural part of the Aegean Regatta will start with the opening ceremony of an exhibition: "Maritime Tradition in the Aegean: Shipyards and Traditional Boats" and will continue with the presentation of the best traditional carpenters. The night is expected to end with traditional music from a famous local band called "Alkaios".
Mytilini, and especially Plomari, where the start of the first regatta will take place is world famous for one thing: Ouzo! So the crews need to be very careful if they do not wish to loose the start on Monday morning…!