Cyprus Mail

Sailing into history

By Alix Norman

Taking place at the Famagusta Nautical Club (which, for obvious reasons, is based in Limassol), the annual Ioannideia has been the high point of the local sailing calendar since 2013. Multi-million euro yachts from all over the world have each year headed our way to compete in the Offshore Regatta: sailors from Britain, Israel, Greece and Russia racing alongside local participants in a bid to take the winner’s cup. And it’s certainly been a spectacle that attracts the crowds: little compares to the beauty of seeing, as Masefield would have it, ‘the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking’.

This year, however, those with a spot of sea fever will be even more captivated: the 2015 Ioannideia has vastly expanded its scope, with the event receiving official recognition from the Offshore Racing Congress. Established in 1969 as an international regulating body for the sport of competitive sailing, the ORC is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of rating and classification standards used to define offshore yacht racing handicap categories. Which means that the Ioannideia now includes world-class, international offshore yachting events.

“When we talk about offshore sailing, it’s about yachts, which are separated according to class,” explains Stelios Charalambous, Director of Ioannideia. “The majority are privately-owned,” he adds, “and a full-size yacht can take from five to 14 crew members and sleep several people.” Partnering with the Limassol Marina (which provides free mooring for all teams for the duration), the Nautical Club – along with its main sponsors Moscow Building Service and IronFX – is able to host any number of full-size yachts for this world-class undertaking: “Last year’s winner, The Spirit of Galatea, which hailed from Greece,” notes Stelios, “was approximately 75 feet in length…”
Offshore Racing, it seems, is no small matter! And while the Famagusta Nautical Club is now expecting over 40 teams from all over the world to compete in the International Offshore Regatta, the official ORC endorsement has also allowed organisers to extend the Ioannideia into a seven-day series embracing a plethora of additional events.

Running from September 7 to 13, the programme now includes an International Optimist Regatta. Sailed in over 120 countries around the globe, this small, single-handed sailing dinghy is one of only two yachts approved by the International Sailing Federation exclusively for sailors below 16. Hence the inclusion in the Ioannideia of the first locally-based International Optimist Regatta for children aged 15 and under, sponsored by the Cyprus Tourist Organisation and Limassol Marina, with well-known manufacturer stepping up to provide competitors with boats.

On top of that, the Nautical Club will also host a number of water sports competitions, as well as other social events. Saturday morning sees the National Aquathlon Championship – organised under the envelope of the 2015 Ioannideia – which includes a 5km run split into two equal parts, with a one-kilometre swim in the middle.

Sunday sees three separate events: at 9.15am, the 2,000 metre Open Sea Swimming Marathon – open to anyone over the age of 12 – starts from the beach. At the same time, the Open Sea Rowing Marathon will be starting from the Limassol Marina and ending outside the Nautical Club. And from 9.30am the Canoe/Kayak Open Sea Doubles Marathon will be taking place between the same two locations. Wednesday boasts a rather exciting football game between the retired swimmers of the Nautical Club and an as yet undisclosed major league team (who I can reveal are a household name!), while the final Sunday includes a whole host of thrills, attended offshore by a warship from the German Navy and vessels of the Cyprus Navy!

Taking place in front of the monument to Andreas Ioannides – the Club’s heroic former Vice President, after whom the event is named – the Closing Ceremony includes the Offshore prize giving (during which every single participant will receive an honorary diploma), speeches, cocktail party and formal dinner. And, best of all, everything is open to the public (even the formal dinner, though a prior reservation is required) and the Club’s Noa Restaurant is the perfect place from which to watch the whole week’s excitements! So don’t miss out, pencil Cyprus’ foremost regatta in your diary now. Because the 2015 Ioannideia is an event that will be sailing into history!


2015 Ioannideia
September 7 to 13 with a host of events based at or near the Famagusta Nautical Club in Limassol. All are open to spectators and free of charge (except the formal dinner, which requires a prior reservation and costs €25 per head)

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