|Bodrum's Gulets: Charter/Ownership/Festival/Regatta|
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Bodrum, described by the Greek poet Homer as “the land of eternal blue,” is the crown jewel of Turkey’s southwestern Aegean coast, and is known worldwide as a resort that offers the best in seaside living. “Bodrum” refers not only to the town, but also to the peninsula on which it is situated. The area has an abundance of architectural and historical signiﬁcance, including the 15th-century Castle of St. Peter located on the harbor front; ancient windmills; white, dome-shaped cisterns known as gümbets where travelers and their animals used to stop and quench their thirst; and classic wooden sailing boats known as gulets that ﬁll the harbor.
With accommodating weather, Bodrum is surrounded by natural beauty and preserved antiquities. About 2.9 million tourists visit the area yearly, mainly during the summer. And Bodrum is becoming increasingly popular in early fall.
The arrival of autumn is symbolized by the Bodrum Cup Wooden Sailing Yacht Regatta that celebrates the end of the cruising season. The ﬁrst regatta was held in 1989 with the intent of promoting the use of sails during yacht charters. The event was expanded in 2010 to become the Bodrum Yacht Festival, which was organized by local yacht charter businessman and president of the ERA Bodrum Sailing Club, Erman Aras <erayachting.com>, the Turkish marine industry association DENTUR and the Bodrum Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the yacht race, the new format includes wooden and charter yachts exhibited in Bodrum Harbor, a marine equipment exhibition, a naval museum, and a variety of festival activities such as concerts, seminars and an underwater imaging contest.
The festival is professionally run, and the four legs of the regatta take the participants to various islands and coastal locations. About 1,500 people, including 500 from foreign countries, rise at dawn to prepare for each day’s race, which ends at sunset, giving way to an evening of activities, including concerts, fun competitions, cocktail parties and fashion shows.
A noteworthy detail about this competition is that only traditional and classic wooden gulets are permitted to compete in the main regatta. The regatta is also open to private yachts, either Turkish or foreign-ﬂagged, that are accepted as non-competing guests.
Since 2004, the Bodrum Cup has hosted the Circle of Love, where the participating yachts form a circle at a different location each year, sending a message of love, peace and friendship to the world.
The primary objective of the regatta is to promote interest and skill in sailing among the captains and crews of Bodrum’s charter ﬂeet. Each year they endeavor to further develop their abilities to use the wind to their best advantage. Many are joined by close family members and friends for this amicable get together of yachts that typically cruise on their own.
Most of the participating yachts have been built in the area’s many shipyards and this event gives the yacht builders a chance to test their boats in all kinds of weather. Boat builders not only compete with each other, but also go head-to-head with boats they have built in earlier years. This spurs the production of ever-better yachts, certiﬁed to high standards of both luxury and performance under sail.
The regatta is also one of the few races of the Aegean-Mediterranean where gulets sail with passengers on board. Interested parties can make arrangements to book a cabin on one of the racing yachts and experience the contest ﬁrsthand.
The best way to evaluate the gulets is at the land-based activities of the festival, which feature wooden and charter yachts docked and available for boarding, as well as booths that display marine equipment and the services of boat builders and yacht charter businesses. This is an ideal opportunity for those contemplating booking a charter for the next season to view the boats, ask questions and get a feel for the gulets.
Those wanting to participate in the regatta should consider booking a charter aboard one of the racing gulets during the fall. Not only is this a great way to extend the cruising season, but visitors will be able to enjoy the sites of the area without the summer crowds.