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Cruising -

  Cruisers fall in love with outer islands

As word gets out on the airwaves and Internet about the beauty of the Marshalls’ outer atolls, more and more cruising yachts are visiting the country.

Proving the point, the manager of Majuro’s Mieco Beach Yacht Club, Liz Rodick, recently spoke to a group of outer atoll mayors and others interested in the tourism industry: “The Marshall Islands Visitors Authority has informed us that the RMI has hosted approximately 1,400 tourists arriving at the airport during both 2002 and 2003. These 1,400 tourists have enjoyed an average of seven days in the RMI, totaling 9,800 tourist days. “In this season alone, which is only six months and runs from November 2003 to about May 2004, we will have hosted approximately 28 yachts with an average of two people on board for an average stay of six months. “This gives us a total of 10,080 tourist days, which could represent an annual income in the range of $250,000.”
Of the yachts that arrived in the 2003-04 season, six skippers found they were enjoying RMI — and particularly the outer islands — so much, they decided to stay on for a year.

In late 2003, with so many yachts arriving in town, a small group of semi-permanent visitors to the Marshalls got together and formed the Mieco Beach Yacht Club. Its prime purpose was to add another element to the yachties’ lives while in Majuro by holding races and complementary skippers’ meetings and awards night parties.

The club’s racing season is dependant on how many yachts are in town, but as the main cruising season in the Marshalls runs from October to May, that’s when the races are held.

The club hosts a skippers’ meeting/party on the Friday night before the race, with all welcome to attend. At the meeting, wannabe crew (no experience necessary) can be lined up with skippers for the race, which is usually held on Sunday afternoon.

The Marshall Islands Journal always alerts readers to when the next race is being held and one can go to the new web site http://www.miecobeachyc.com for up-to-date news.

As well as Mieco Beach Yacht Club races, Majuro sports two major sailing events a year — the Coconut Cup Regatta and the National Outrigger Cup.
The annual Coconut Cup Regatta, which has been held for seven years, is usually held in late March or early April and is the only race in the world that sees modern sailing yachts compete on the same race course as traditional Marshallese outrigger canoes.
Traditionally the regatta weekend includes an all-welcome Saturday night prize-giving party, a picnic on Sunday and a soiree at the Marshall Islands Resort on Monday.

Any sailing vessel, including windsurfers, can be entered in the Saturday afternoon race.
The course is generally (depending on direction of the wind) a triangle starting off RRE, going to the Marshall Islands Resort and then west to Ejit and back to RRE. The canoe skippers use the Coconut Cup as a practice run for the country’s most prestigious outrigger race, the National Outrigger Cup, which is usually held in early May each year.
The Cup takes place over three days, with the main races taking place on a course between the airport and Delap.

As well as canoe racing, there are riwut (miniature canoes) races and competitions for vessels made out of recycled materials.
 
 

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