There are no other lovelier boats than the traditionally styled wooden gulets which Bodrum boatyards are famous for producing, just as there is no lovelier sight than the fleet of gulets under sail at the starting line of The Bodrum Cup regatta.
This year the sailors, competitors, passengers and supporting audience gather October 15-22 to wrap the sailing summer up and celebrate under sail. The competitive sailing without motors is the primary condition and challenge to each crew and each boat, great or small, and produces exciting moments for all to enjoy.
The Bodrum Cup, which started as a quiet end-of-season fun event between a few Bodrum gulets to test their actual sailing skills back in 1989, has now become one of the bigger sailing events in the Mediterranean. It is unique in that not just crews but paying guests can join the gulets each year to partake in the racing and celebrations and on the spectator, non-competing boats. Suleyman Uysal, Chairman of the Organizing Committee said in 2018, (though there have been setbacks since) – “When we look at the annual average, we can say that we are getting more interest each year, more participants and visitors are meeting with the beautiful villages and bays of Bodrum. This is an important opportunity for promotion both of Bodrum and in Turkey. We will organize the Bodrum Cup to realize our goal of being the biggest sailing race of the Mediterranean “.
As the Ege Eye goes to publication, the 34th route is yet to be announced. We expect that given the difficulties in the required bureaucracy, it is unfortunately unlikely to return to ‘the friendship route’ incorporating the neighbouring Greek Islands of Leros and Kalymnos. The 34th Regatta is likely to follow a similar route to last year, when it sailed between the Bodrum Peninsula harbours of Yalıkavak, Gümüşlük, Bodrum, Çokertme and Kissebükü in the Gökova Gulf .
The 29th Bodrum Cup Regatta was the year it returned to the Gokova Gulf, the gulf where sailors and gulets have learnt their craft, and where the ‘Blue Cruise’ stories were spawned.
At the time, there was and there continues to a real and urgent message in the route. The Chairman of the Bodrum Cup Organizing Committee, Süleyman Uysal said, it was chosen to emphasise the importance of preserving the natural beauties of Bodrum: “One of the best ways to show how much we love our country is to protect our country’s sea and nature. With its natural beauty and heavenly attractions, Bodrum is one of the most special places to introduce Turkey to the world. Therefore, it is very sad that Bodrum bays are under threat of over development. This year we have included Kissebükü, the first bay of Gökova, for this reason. We came together in Kissebükü bay today to support the preservation of all the natural beauties of Bodrum, and of Turkey with its unique nature so rarely encountered in the world. As ‘The Bodrum Cup’, we feel that being sensitive to the environment is very important. “
At Kissebükü, the regatta also holds a commemoration ceremony for Sadun Boro, the first Turkish sailor to circumnavigate the world, who devoted his life to the sea and the protection of nature, particularly Gökova Gulf, by casting wreaths into the waters around the sculpture installed on rocks as a permanent memorial to Boro.
In that year of global lockdowns, the 32nd year was a marked by the symbolic sail of just one gulet, the magnificent STS Bodrum, the sail training gulet built with community support 16 years ago, when on October 20, 2020, it sailed to Kissebükü to commemorate ‘The Year of Heroes’, for the medical staff who had borne the brunt of the COVID pandemic. (Watch the Youtube video of the 32nd year)
The 33rd Regatta made a special visit to the part of the coasts between Mazi and Çokertme villages devasted by forest fires in August 2021, where a special food festival evening was organised to support the local villagers and farmers who could share their crafts and food and meet the people who had fought the fires and cared for them. The famous Turkish jazz pianist, Kerem Görsev, performed a special concert on the seashore as part of that evening.
The preparations for the 34th Regatta are now underway, with the annual first and very inclusive event when the members and children of the Bodrum Engelliler Sağlık Vakfı, the foundation supporting the disabled, paint the numbers and flags for the boats on the 4th and 5th October.
Applications are open on the website for participant boats, spectator boats, those who wish to crew or be on a racing boat, and those who want to be on a spectator boat. It is open to all, so come on down to Bodrum for the fun. It’s not just about being on the boats, either, as each night there will be the usual music, concerts, and the cooking competition between boat chefs.
It is an experience not to be missed.
Main Sponsor: The American Hospital, Bodrum (part of Koç Healthcare)