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Now for something completely different

Now for something completely different

If I asked you to close your eyes and picture yourself at a blue sky, warm water regatta this winter, what do you conjure up? Key West Race Week? Antigua Sailing Week? Maybe the St. Thomas International Regatta? 

What would you be racing? A Melges 24 or 32? A TP52 or Maxi 70? 

Those are the type of fantasy scenarios I come up with too. But how about something different? Something a tad more challenging and out of the ordinary? 

Like a 186-mile race through the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago on a 16-foot sailing outrigger-canoe dug out of a mango tree?

That’s what competitors in the 2017 Ngalawa Cup will be taking on this coming New Year’s Day and the organisers – The Adventurists – are hoping to attract 25 teams from around the world.

The race takes place twice a year and the last edition in July 2016 was won by a three-man team of Swedes who completed the course in three days. The organisers expect most teams to take around nine days.

The phrase back to basics doesn’t come anywhere close to describing this event. Tales from previous editions are of sleeping rough on desert island beaches, navigating blind around desert islands at night and patching leaks in your boat as you sail.  

The boats - called Ngalawas – are hand made by local islanders. They are as wide as they are long and have a lanteen rig (think Sunfish) that carries up to 430 square-feet of sail. The speed range is said to be five to 10 knots but – unsubstantiated - claims have been made of 20 knots plus.

The entry fee is £1300 per person based on a team of three. That includes the charter of your Ngalawa, some pre-race training, live online tracking of your progress, a personal emergency beacon for each of you and your own support vessel.

If this sounds like the adventure you want to kick off 2017 with then you can enter here

Part Two -- Thomas Coville: Planet Racecourse

Part Two -- Thomas Coville: Planet Racecourse

Giovanni Soldini and the art of ocean flight

Giovanni Soldini and the art of ocean flight

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