Archive for » February 16th, 2015«

Foreign tourists cancel Paraw Regatta guesting after Mamasapano clash

ILOILO CITY—Last month’s bloody clash in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province has affected tourists far away from the carnage.

Several foreign tourists have backed out from guesting in Iloilo’s boat-sailing festival, the Paraw Regatta, this weekend after seeing news reports of the Jan. 25 incident where 44 elite policemen, 18 Moro rebels and five civilians died in a police operation to capture Malaysian bomb terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir or “Marwan.”

Manuel Villa Jr., president of the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation Inc., said 26 Australian tourists who had planned to join the festival withdrew saying the Philippines was “very much in the news” recently.

“The widespread reports of the incident may have discouraged them even as we have reassured them that the country, especially Iloilo, is very much peaceful,” Villa told the Inquirer.

Several guests from Hong Kong have also informed Villa of canceling their plans to guest in the festival.

He said most of the guests planned to experience a new feature of the festival in which tourists could ride for a fee in one of the sailing boats or “paraw.”

The paraws are small and slim double outrigger boats made of indigenous materials traditionally used by Ilonggos for transportation and fishing.

The native boats are faithful reproductions of sailboats that carried the Bornean datus and their followers who settled on Panay Island in the early 13th century.

The tourists can either be one of the passengers or be part of the crew if they have boat sailing skills or experience.

“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” Villa said.

But despite the backing out of some foreign guests, thousands are expected to flock to the annual festival that will culminate in the boat-sailing competition on Sunday along the shores of Iloilo City and Guimaras.

The 43-year-old festival has drawn international acclaim with distinction as the oldest and one of the most colorful sailing events in Asia.

Paraw Regatta is famous for the colorful paraws and the 36.5-kilometer sailing competition along the Iloilo Strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras Island.

The sails, traditionally made from woven matting but synthetic materials usually in striking colors, are more commonly used today. The boats are designed to sail fast at speeds.

About 70 participants are expected to join the boat sailing competition, according to Villa.

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Gavignet hopes to defend SATT crown despite tough challenge

(MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Sidney Gavignet the skipper of defending champion EFG Bank Moncao hopes to hold on to the title as the fifth edition of the EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) began at The Wave Muscat late on Sunday afternoon.

Despite a noticeable increase in the number of boats this time – up from last year’s six to 11 – the Frenchman said that his crew has a wealth of experience that gives EFG Bank Monaco an edge over the other teams.

Renaissance’s Fahad al Hasni (right) receives the skipper’s flag from H H Sayyid Kamil

Speaking to Muscat Daily on Sunday Gavignet said ‘We are under pressure to defend the title but we have a good team with experienced and specialist offshore sailors like Damian Foxall of Ireland and Frenchman Fabien Delahaye.

‘Our plan is to sail fast and see if we can be as good as we were last year. The key to winning is to post consistently good results at the top. The competition is tough but we hope to retain the title.’

With three Omanis on board Gavignet was all praise for Oman Sail over its role in developing the sport and promoting Omani sailors.

‘Abdul al Mashari Abdullah al Shukaili and Nasser al Marzouqi will be with us and it is a good sign. Also the appointment of Fahad al Hasni as Team Renaissance skipper underlines the progress of Omani sailors. I am proud to see that Oman Sail is achieving its objectives. Fahad has been my key man at many regattas. I am very happy that he will be leading a group of Omani sailors’ Gavignet said.

The EFG Bank Monaco skipper said the new route of the fortnight-long SATT – starting in Muscat and finishing in Manama Bahrain – is a ‘good concept’ as the teams are getting off to an easy start before facing tougher legs after the Sohar stopover. ‘It is nice to have an easy start – the stretch from Muscat to Sohar. But the real test will begin after this first leg’ said Gavignet.

The SATT will see the 11 teams competing over a distance of 760 nautical-miles with the race expected to conclude on February 28. Besides the offshore legs the teams will also compete in inshore races at a couple of marinas.

With some of world’s top sailors including a mix of regional and international sailors representing 21 nations alongside young Omani talent making their Tour debut the SATT provides stiff competition for the teams with all of them using Farr30 boats.

Sunday’s opening ceremony was held at Oman Sail’s headquarters at The Wave Muscat under the patronage of H H Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd al Said Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs.

The Al Thuraya crew prepares for the start of the race at Almouj Marina on Sunday

Also present on the occasion were H E Maitha al Mahrouqi Oman Sail chairwoman and the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Tourism H E Sheikh Rashad al Hinai the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs H E Khalfan al Na’abi the Advisor at the Ministry of Sports Affairs and David Graham Oman Sail CEO.

In his remarks to Muscat Daily H H Sayyid Kamil said ‘This is an event that helps in reviving the maritime heritage of Oman and enhances the brotherly relations with our neighbours. I am happy to see a lot of Omani crew in action. Oman Sail is doing a good job in organising such top-class events.’

Graham said ‘Through this event we are writing a new chapter in the region’s history and making sailing a sport for all. The mix of teams in this year’s competition shows the wide reach of sailing the passion for the sport around the world and the potential for sailing to capture the imagination of people across the region.’

Marcel Herrera skipper of Team Averda said that though his team has new sailors on board ‘we are confident of giving the experienced campaigners a run for their money’.

‘It is always good to aim for the top but the standard of competition this year makes it a very difficult challenge’ said Herrera who finished second last year with Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team.

Australia’s Nick Moloney skipper of GAC powered by Dongfeng Race Team who won the Jules Verne Trophy sailing non-stop around the world in 2002 and competed in the Vendee Globe in 2005 is making his debut at the event.
He is sailing with a team comprising mostly Chinese sailors sourced from Dongfeng Race Team which is competing in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race.

The Omani challenge is being led by Hasni in Team Renaissance Ahmed al Mamari in Team Omifco the Royal Navy of Oman a student crew on board IMCO and the women’s team of Al Thuraya led by British Olympian Mary Rook.

Mamari told Muscat Daily ‘We are proud to have an all-Omani crew and we are aiming for a top-five finish. A lot of youngsters are on board and it will be a great learning experience for them competing against some of the world’s best sailors.’

Hasni said he hoped he could come up with a positive show with his all-Omani crew except for British sailor Philippe Falle.

Gilles Chiorri the race director said that though the first leg to Sohar is straightforward the teams are likely to face light-wind conditions later into the night. He welcomed the new route – an exact reversal of last year’s one – and said ‘it would ensure an exciting finish as the course requires teams to sail a lot more upwind’.

Teams (with skippers’ names): Al Thuraya Team (Mary Rook) TU Delft Challenge (Wouter Sonnema) Bienne Voile (Lorenz Muller) EFG Bank Monaco (Sidney Gavignet) GAC powered by Dongfeng Race Team (Nick Moloney) Team Renaissance (Fahad al Hasni) Royal Navy of Oman (Omar Salim al Ismaili) IMCO (Mathijs Wagemans) Zain Kuwait (Cedric Pouligny) Team Omifco (Khalid al Alawi) Team Averda (Marcel Herrera).

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Protesters give John Key a hard time

Auckland Action Against Poverty protesters disrupt John Key's arrival at an Orakei function yesterday. Photo NZ Herald.

Prime Minister John Key had to be shielded by the linked
arms of police officers from a group of shouting and shoving
protesters when he arrived for a National Party function in
Auckland yesterday.

He arrived smiling but showed visible concern at one point as
he brushed against sailing boats parked by the wall of the
function room at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Orakei.

Inside, the noise from people chanting “Stop the War on The
Poor,” amplified music and protesters banging on wooden rear
doors drowned out speeches, until police enforced a 20m
buffer zone.

However, the Prime Minister did not leave by the same door as
he came in — choosing an exit out of the sight of the body
of protesters and driving away in a different car.

The police presence, reinforced by dog handling and maritime
sections, numbered 31 — nearly as many as the protesters
from the Auckland Action Against Poverty, led by former Green
Party MP Sue Bradford.

At one point, the veteran protester gave police the slip and
ran up external stairs to the clubhouse upper floor where she
said she was met by police and bundled down the inside
stairs, her loudhailer breaking in the struggle. “I was
trying to get to talk to the Prime Minister but many police
came and stayed with us.”

National Party member Steve Clerk said he walked by the side
of Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye as she left the function
and they had to run a gauntlet of protesters.

Police pulled out one of the protesters, who had earlier
revved a car close to the club door and waved a red banner,
and took him to Auckland Central Police Station. It’s not
clear if he was arrested or charged. Wayne Thompson


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Miami boat shows coast on wave of US recovery

More than 100,000 manufacturers, retailers, brokers and buyers have converged on Miami for one of the biggest boat industry events in the world.

Each year, the Miami International Boat Show and the luxury-oriented Yacht and Brokerage Show on Miami Beach, simultaneously set up shop. The showboat events feature thousands of watercraft and accompanying aquatic accessories, all of which are up for grabs.

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Whether its aluminum fishing boats or mega yachts, one theme is prevailing across price categories at both shows: boat sales are back.

“Almost everything is selling,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMAA). “Pontoon, ski-and-wakeboard boats—both of those are increasing double digits, and salt water fishing boats are very strong.”

That’s welcome news for an industry rocked by the recession. Like other types of big-ticket discretionary items, demand for recreational boats plunged dramatically in the economic downturn. Sales of new boats sunk 60 percent from their pre-recession peak, staying sluggish for years as the much larger pre-owned market held steady. The wave of distressed supply drew in enterprising bargain hunters, who dominated the market.

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Yet if the buzz at Miami’s shows is any indication, the tide seems to be turning.

The NMAA estimates new boat sales grew 7 to 8 percent last year, and it forecasts similar momentum for 2015. While sales activity is still about a third below that mid-2000s peak, consumer spending on boats, marine accessories and other related goods has surged back to pre-recession levels, according to data. In 2014, spending on the recreational boating in the U.S. approached $40 billion.

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Blyth scouts get their sea legs thanks to special award

Sea scouts in danger of becoming landlocked are sailing to success after finally getting on board their very own fleet of boats.

For years Blyth Sea Scouts have had to pay to hire yachts so that their young people could experience a life on the ocean waves.

But now, thanks to a community award of £11,500, the group have been able to buy their own fleet of four boats.

Robert Crumpton, leader of 8th Blyth Sea Scout Group, said: “Our members identified sailing as one of the most enjoyable activities at our annual watersports camp, so by purchasing our own equipment we can use sailing boats more frequently as part of our activities.

“Now more young people can participate in the sport, earn more badges, and learn new skills.

“As one of only three Scout groups in the whole of Blyth, and the only group that provides any kind of water sports on a regular basis, this is an asset for our local community.”

The boats will be used by the scout group to engage young people in sailing activities to raise their aspirations and help develop their confidence.

Previously the group paid yacht hire on a trip by trip basis, which was proving prohibitive, costly, and restricted the amount of sailing activity that young people could take.

The £11,591 award was donated to the group by the North of England Pamp;I Association, through the charitable North 150 Fund, held with the Community Foundation Tyne amp; Wear and Northumberland.

Thanks to the cash, the group bought four Topper Topaz Boats, and some extra safety equipment.

Michael Asherson, chair of the North 150 Fund Committee, said: “We feel a responsibility to the area in which we operate, and understand the importance for us to use our success to help create stronger communities by supporting local causes.

“The award to 8th Blyth Sea Scouts will help them reduce their expenditure whilst also generating further activities for young people to develop new skills and raise confidence. This is a truly powerful thing.”

The award from the North 150 Fund is part of a grant making programme managed by the Community Foundation Tyne amp; Wear and Northumberland.

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