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The Beach in Kupang

SAIL INDONESIA has now become the second largest yachting event in the Asian region --- right behind the King's Cup in Thailand. Sixty nine (yes, 69) yachts joined the rally in Darwin Aust. to sail together on a voyage of discovery. The first stop was in Kupang located on the western tip of Timor. The whole town turned out to greet and treat the yachties to the first of four cultural experiences arranged by the Yayasan Cinta Bahari Indonesia in cooperation with the Kupang's Dinas Pariwisata (Tourism Board). The harbor officials broke all records to process port clearances with true hospitality. The warm welcome to Indonesia climaxed with a gala dinner and cultural show hosted by the Governor of Nusa Tenggara Timor. After 3 days of socializing, shopping and land tours, the yachts then headed north for the island of Alor.

Cultural Display Partcipants
Biscuit Seller in Kupang

Alor 2005 ! --- 39 yachts arrived in the harbor at Kalabahi where the kind and generous 'Bupati of Alor' and the tourist board have pledged to make this 'cultural expo' an annual event to coincide with the "Sail Indonesia Yacht Rally" each August.
It couldn't get any better. Every village in the island group sent representatives to display cultural traditions, music & dance, crafts and agricultural accomplishments in 20 'booths' erected at the anchorage arrival area.
A primitive warrior dance group welcomed the yachties on arrival at the 'quant' (?) dinghy dock hastily hammered together where the whole town was on hand to watch the arrival of yachts from 20 foreign nations.

Dancers in Alor
The Anchorage in Alor

The following day, all the participants were treated to a parade of cultural groups representing all the villages of Alor in the town sports field. Treated like visiting dignitaries, all were then invited the official residence of the Bupati for dinner, more music & dance, thankful speeches and awards.
Other events during the 6 day visit included a bus trip to a traditional village for a beach party with more music n' dance and a wonderful Bar-B-Q.
Two groups arranged scuba diving trips with "Dive Alor" (diving here is spectacular ) while others arranged individual or group tours of the island to visit traditional villages which ended with a mountain top photo opportunity of the harbor and the beautiful Kalabahi Sound.
Then it was on to 'Riung' for another unique and unforgettable experience.


Riung 2005 --- proved to be the highlight for many of the 46 yachts arriving at North Flores. This small village not only extended a warm welcome, they treated each visitor as 'royalty' with traditional song and dance for each arrival.
Then, the participants were seated on a horse and escorted by many of the village people to the home of the Kapala Desa (head of the village) for a feast! (All of this when many of the villagers cannot afford to buy rice.)

Horseman in Riung
Sports Day Activities in Riung

Feasts continued while the whole village turned out to join the yachties and practice their English ('Hello Meester!' was the word of the day).
Over the 6 day event the visitors enjoyed a Komodo Dragon trip, a Welcome Dinner hosted by the local government, a land excursion to the ancient village of 'Bena' and a traditional boxing competition.
The grand final farewell 'Gala Dinner' for the rally was held in Bali on 30 August. The Yacht Rally concept has become so popular that an announcement was made to extend the rally to Malaysia with the 'Sail Asia Yacht Rally'.
Yachts will leave Indonesia on their own schedule in the coming months be greeted in Lankawi in November for another cultural experience.
The Sail Indonesia Yacht Rally has proven to be a heart warming cultural exchange between the western world and the warm and wonderful people of Indonesia.
Other Island leaders are asking that we include their towns and villages on the itinerary.
The Rally has grown larger each year and organizers are already planning more events for 2006.

Lunch at Riung
Dancing Lessons in Riung
Sunset over Kupang Bay


Article by Dick McCune Photographs by Raymond Lesmana
Yayasan Cinta Bahari Indonesia

Reprinted from

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