2nd Annual 'Darwin-Kupang-Bali' Yacht Rally

The 2nd Annual 'Darwin-Kupang-Bali' Yacht Rally has exceeded everyone's expectations this year --- including the Indonesian government and politicians involved in the events. With forty three yachts and 120 captains and crew representing 10 nations, these events have not only became a cultural introduction to the traditional Indonesian way of life for the participants but has fostered a wonderful cultural bond between the friendly Indonesian people and all the nations represented.

Yachts began arriving checking into the country on 28 July at the famous (and newly renovated) 'Teddy's Bar' in downtown Kupang. Teddy hosted the yachties with daily cultural dances, good food and cold beer leading up to the Gala Dinner on 31 July, which was presented, by the Governor of Nusa Tenggara Timor and the Indonesian Tourist Office (Dinas Parawisata). A beer drinking record was broken in an effort to 'spur on the economy' In the five-day visit, the fleet consumed 1, 226 large bottles of cold Bintang Beer. Sailor men and women at their best!  No doubt this visit by the Yacht Rally truly helped the ailing tourist economy in many other areas as well. On a very heart warming note, the fleet collected nearly $1,000 U.S. Dollars to present to the Governor of NTT and was handed over to the Director of the local Orphanage. With all the festivities the yachties still had time to explore W.Timor on various private and organized tours. They were pleased to find interesting cultural villages, waterfalls, traditional markets, an annual horse race and other tourist pleasures around the area. 

Since this was a yacht 'rally' (not a race) the awards given were designed to bring a smile: First to Arrive on Diesel fuel:  Risque Affair from New Zealand (we thought Kiwis could sail?)  -- The Real Sailor Award for sailing all but the last kilometer: Pisces from America (they also lost an America's Cup or two). The last to arrive - Rear Admiral award:  Voi Voi from Norway AND, The Unluckiest Sailor Award for Julia from San Francisco who may still be in Kupang repairing or replacing the transmission.

Also, an honorable mention for the yacht who suffered the longest port clearance process - waiting aboard their yacht for 24 hours without cold beer- Gemini from America & Great Britain. (The clearance procedures did improve to break record times of 1 or 2 days to clear into the country. Steep learning curve?)

Mr. Harvey Cooper, Yacht Guitar from Great Britain said it all in his speech as the representative for all the yacht captains & crew --- "Thank you very much for the exceptional, warm hospitality that was extended to us by the people of Kupang, Timor and all the various government representatives who opened the door for us at this gateway to Indonesia.  What a wonderful reception!"

Then onto the island of Alor. The yachts were invited by Bupati of Alor (Bpk IR. Ans Takalapeta) and the Tourism office to join the 'Festival Budaya Flobamora II' cultural exhibition at the capital of Kalibahi. Thirty-three yachts sailed the 133 nautical miles from Kupang to fill the little harbor for 5 days of celebrations that once again "exceeded everyone's expectations". The cultural exhibits included representatives from at least 28 islands throughout Nusa Tenggara Timor. The genuine warmth and hospitality from the island government and the people of Alor will not be forgotten.

The rally committee and participants broke all the rules that are imposed by international travel warnings: Keep a low profile? Avoid large gatherings of people? Ninety-six western people walked through the town and up the hill to a stadium surrounded by at least 5000 Indonesian people for the opening of the exposition. An estimated 1200 Indonesian island people paraded for two hours around the stadium in traditional costume with local music presentations to the joy of the rally people who were seated prominently in the viewing stand with the Indonesian Minister of Cultural & Tourism (Bpk I Gede Ardika from Jakarta) and the wonderful 'Bupati of Alor' who hosted the events. After the official opening, the 96 rally participants joined the Minister and the Bupati at his official residence for a lunch reception. They then walked back to the harbor wharf for another official 'welcome' to the expo. (Complete with welcoming by a traditional war canoe sailing through the fleet of anchored yachts)  

The harbor venue was surrounded by 43 stalls or booths with displays of traditional weaving (Ikat) many other local crafts and agricultural presentations. Centered within the booth display area was a great 'bale barong' or traditional grass roof building and stage for daily performances, speeches and music. Presentations were given in thanks to the Bupati and his people by the rally committee and a representative Captain from the yachts. Then once again, a collection was taken up for 'Mama Putiah' (Mrs. White) who is a 70 year old volunteer who directs the orphanage there. She graciously received the gift, in tears, and invited the yachties to visit the orphanage and the children the next day. Captains & Crew from 10 boats enjoyed lunch with the children and presented gifts of clothing and toys. All in all, truly an international exchange of goodwill throughout both the Kupang and Alor events. With all that goodwill at heart, the yachts left Kupang and Alor around 8 August to cruise slowly through Nusa Tenggara to Flores, Komodo, Rinca to Bali and beyond.

When the organizing committee arrived back in Kupang, the Dinas Parawisata NTT (tourist office) was already busy planning for events in 2005. Another island will host the cultural exposition and we are invited to include at least two more destinations after Kupang & Alor. At the same time, the committee has already responded to 10 yachties wishing to join for 2005. The mission of the organizing committee is two fold: 1.) To promote the sport of sailing in our wonderful archipelago and 2.) To promote marine tourism in an effort to extend the cultural exchange to other areas of Indonesia and extend the economical benefit of this great sport of sailing to the people in the outlying islands.

Many thanks to our sponsors and organizers -- Porlasi (The Indonesian Sailing Federation) to Island Sportz Magazine, Bali Marina & Mandara Spa Asia for helping to make this event a great success. These organizations also support our Darwin-Bali Yacht Race.

Darwin-Bali Yacht Race

Fourteen yachts raced/cruised & motored to the finish line at Benoa. Light breezes took the wind out of the competition but the Awards Dinner was a fun event with humorous honors going to 1.) Aint Misbehavin for the 'real sailor' award who sailed 83% of the course.  2.) Hana the 'Rear Admiral Award' for last to cross the line, also known as the Unluckiest Sailor Award with bad fuel problems. 3.) Luna & Caprice were awarded for their efforts to report conditions & positions along the course for the Radio Active Award. All in all, everyone is having a good time --- enjoying Balinese hospitality as tourists.

Next year's Rally should prove to be even better. The Governor of NTT and the head of the tourist board has already invited us to add another destination to the Riung islands of Flores for another cultural exposition. So please stay tuned. Goto http://www.darwinbalirace.com  for info on next year's events and for Indonesian sailing details goto: http://www.balimarina.com .

Dick McCune  -- G.M. Bali Marina - Founder: Royal Bali Yacht Club
Write to bbsyacht@idola.net.id for Q. & A. or sponsorship opportunities.