Two weeks on a Beneteau First 45 sailing from Split to Dubrovnik in a fleet of identical 45’s has added a whole new dimension to the cruising experience for me.
With a series of seven fun races thrown in to spice the trip it was simply amazing to have the rest of the fleet within a minute or so of us on the water most of the time.
Our skipper and owner of RMYC based X43 Firefly, Dean Gillies said, 'I had the opportunity to test each of my moves on the water, live, which I suppose is just an endorsement of the often heralded merit of one design racing'. At the end of the series the scratch result had Greg Zyner as the clear leader, which meant of course that his Manly Yacht Club crew sailed their boat better than anyone else in the fleet. Four wins out of seven races is difficult to beat.
A result using 'Trev’s International Timing System' gave the silver to Paul Wood from the RPAYC after a count-back was needed to separate his Despoina and Hera, skippered by Dean Gillies.
As in the earlier bulletin, however, the Dalmatian islands were far and away the stars of the show and from Korcula the fleet meanedered down a track that included Polace and Okuklje on the green island of Mljet, Kobas on the mainland near Ston and Sipan, one of the Elefanti group of islands near the final port of call, Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik, what a place; it’s like something out of Disneyland except that it is real and seeing it first from the sea reinforced that perception. The walls are in-tact, the red rooves are gradually fading to the same colour while the church towers climb above the scene to compete with the dramatic escarpment behind the city.
Not long before our arrival, a new MRSC line cruising monster turned up with 4,000 people on board; all of them trying to get into Dubrovnik at the same time with long lines of buses and lines of people melting under the hot sun – what fun. A swim stop with 4,000 people in the water would really be something I would not want to see!
Another revelation from this year’s rally was the food, outstanding with only one exception was the consensus and even then exception was only marginal. Judy Dunstan sailing with husband Jim from the Squadron said 'we were here on the same rally in 2007 and there is no comparison between what we had then and on this trip. More variety, good quality, fresh, served very professionally and with great enthusiasm', she concluded.
Mariner Boating Holidays, who organize the Croatia Yacht Rally, have already booked the new First 45’s recently ordered from Beneteau to augment the existing fleet, which will be refitted for next year.
The details of the 2013 event are on www.marinerboating.com.au
or from Lauren White on +61 2 9966 1244.