As the touristic peninsula of Bodrum on the Aegean coast of Turkey draws into its last month of the summer holiday season, many hotels, bars, and restaurants start winding down for the slow winter period. Yet for the sailing community, the 3rd week of October in Bodrum is a major event that excites everyone who loves the open sea.
Advertising itself as more than just a race, The Bodrum Cup Nautical Festival and Regatta is the highlight of the year, drawing in like-minded people with a mutual interest to celebrate the vast yachting and gulet boat industry of Turkey. Featured in all national newspapers and television, 2016 will be the 27th year of the Bodrum Cup but where and how did it all start?
In 1989, the Era Bodrum Sailing Club that was the only sailing institution of the Mugla region in the late 20th century wanted to bring together sailing enthusiasts and promote knowledge of the pastime and sport.
Together, a small committee dreamt the idea of a Bodrum Cup sailing race and with various routes every year, immense interest and participation have ensured the event is now a focal part of Bodrum social sailing scene. Going on to also offer sailing courses and train young people for the national team in Turkey, the club and Bodrum Cup garners much respect from sailors all over the country.
The Bodrum Cup Race and Traditional Gulet Boats
Running from the 17th to the 22nd of October, this year's sailing instructions says the Bodrum Cup is essential a regatta of wooden sail yachts built for pleasure and touristic purposes. In Turkey, this mainly refers to the classic and traditional Turkish gulet boat of which the Bodrum peninsula has historical fame for their excellence in construction.
Traditionally consisting of two or three masts and measuring between 14 to 35 metres, sponge diving or fishing was the original purpose for gulet boats. However, in the 1970s, the concept of the Turkish Riviera and Blue Voyage cruises was born after the exile of Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli, known as the fisherman of Halicarnassus to the region.
He spent his days sailing and documenting his travels to the Turkish seaside villages and small Greek islands. Word of his travels spread and friends flocked to join him. Sailing in Turkey for pleasure was now the new trend and the gulet design adapted to include overnight accommodation and amenities for tourists.
The standard cruising speed of these wooden yachts is slower than the modern, high-powered boats so they complete the race in another category. As well as the main prize, anyone who has completed 10, 15, 20 and 25 years of participation also receives an award, alongside the youngest sailor and the best Blue Voyage chef for cooking traditional boat cuisine.
The Sailing Route for the 28th Year
Dedicating the route to peace, this year's 5-day sailing regatta separates into five legs of which the first kicks off in the town centre of Bodrum. After a briefing and opening ceremony on the 17th of October, the yachts head around the coastline to Gumusluk on the following day. As a small fishing village with some of the best seaside restaurants, it is an idyllic bay often visited by the rich and famous celebrities and business people of Turkey.
Sailors will relax in the evening with an acoustic performance before waking up the following morning to head to the next destination of Leros, one of the Dodecanese South Aegean Greek islands. Known in Turkey as Ileriye, the island that faced German occupation during World War 2 is famous for some of Greece’s most traditional music. As one of the less crowded tourist destinations of the world, visitors often feast on their sumptuous local fish cuisine.
The next day yachts navigate a roundabout loop before completing the fourth leg on the 21st October when participants head back to Turkey, specifically the upmarket destination of Yalikavak. Formerly a small tourist holiday resort and popular expat haven, the social reputation of Yalikavak garnered much admiration after the completion of the marina that now holds some of the world’s biggest megayachts. Palmarina Bodrum will host a welcome party for the boat members of which last year totalled more than 100 teams.
The fifth and final leg heads back to Bodrum centre for the award ceremony and concert to celebrate the end of another celebrated sailing cup. More information about The Bodrum Cup Nautical Festival and Regatta is on their website here. You can also keep up to date with daily events from the race on their Facebook page.