Earlier this week, the port city of Chania, Crete, was the scene of a momentous occasion: the start of the first ever Cretan Union Cup Regatta. Organized to celebrate the Centennial of the unification of Crete with mainland Greece, and running from 12 – 20 October, the race is also meant to honor the Cretan seafaring culture since ancient times. Between our colleagues on the ground in Crete, and many collaborators taking part, I was able to put together this encapsulation of the first ever Union Cup.
Put on by the various sailing and yachting clubs of Crete, in conjunction with the Region of Crete and local businesses sponsors, the race is now at midpoint of a four port city sailing test in between 18 hardy competitors. The race, which is making a circuit in between the start at Chania, on to Rethymnon, then Heraklion, and finally Agios Nikolaos, emulates an ancient sea route used by the ancient world’s most prolific maritime power, the Minoans of Crete.
The yachtsmen competing are being escorted by a flotilla of vessels including the Hellenic Navy gunboat AITTITOS (image above). Day one of the race saw the start from Chania, and the end of leg one at Rethymnon where the sailors (image below) rested and reveled for a day before setting sail for Heraklion on Wednesday. Today, yacht captains met with stout winds spectators at the yacht basin and “prompted an early and enthusiastic start” for the final leg toward Agios Nikοlaos to the East.
So far the two the winners from the two port city legs are:
1st Race, Chania – Rethymno, 34 nm: KOVATZIS ILIAS aboard ELVIENTO – GOODYEA R
2nd Race, Rethymno- Iraklio, 35 nm: KONSTANTINOS MANIOUDAKIS aboard KORMORANOS II
Some of the locals involved include; the Hellenic Sailing Federation, the Nautical Club of Gaiou Crete, the Sailing Club of Chania, local hospitality businesses Lato Boutique Hotel in Heraklion, and the Porto Venetiano Hotel in Chania, as well as TV and other local media entities. Ioannis Pallikaris, who is but one of the several organizers skippering a boat in the race, is seen below heading out to sea from Heraklion aboard the ΚΥΜΑΤΟΛΗΓΗ.
Following today’s Heraklion to Agios Niklaos leg, participants will enjoy another day of rest before sailing in a series of “in shore” races on Sunday. After those are completed, judges will decide who the overall winners are, and an awards ceremony will cap off what’s already been a sailing adventure of competitors and spectators alike. In addition to the official prizes, winners will also receive complimentary hotel stays offered by Heraklion sponsor Lato Boutique Hotel.