New 'One-Design' Rally discovers the Croatia less travelled

The stark beauty of the Kornati National Park - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce
This new flotilla sailing event from Mariner Boating Holidays in August/September next year will take you to the world famaous Kornati Islands of Croatia, famous for the large area of stark National Parks, clear water and fair winds. We will use a matched fleet of one design, three cabin 47 foot yachts. You'll be aching to book your yacht as quickly as possible when you read what we have planned!

Kornati is 100 islands of untouched wilderness. Add the cities of Sibenik, Zadar, Muter Skradin with the first night in the amazing city of Split and you have a holiday like no other. With time for exploration on the lay days which follow each transit day with our now famous mix of social non-spinnaker races and the formula is complete.

Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik are known as icons for first time visitors to Croatia, and with good reason. Sailors typically start their journey in Split and head south. However a whole new Croatia awaits to the north and this new rally reveals the wonderful highlights of this part of Dalmatia.

Historic Sibenik, at the southern end of the rally route, sits on an extensive inlet of the Adriatic, which winds its way for ten navigable miles inland to Skradin and the Krka National Park. Here spectacular waterfalls already attract tourists but the trip up the Sibenik Canal and back equals the falls themselves as an experience.

A highlight in Sibenik is the cathedral, which took one-hundred years to build and with no mortar to hold it all together! The old city is steeped in history and the fortifications that overlook modern day Sibenik offer terrific views across the harbour to the sea.

Sibenik Cathedral - 100 years to build with no mortar - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Murter, Vodice and Tribunj, just a little to the north, are seaside hamlets offering excellent facilities for visiting mariners. Restaurants line the shores, there are pubs a plenty, many offering live music to the night owls, and the nearby islets of Zlarin, Prvic and Kaprije are attractions in their own right.

Motoring up the Sinenik Canal to Krka falls - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

George Bernard Shaw wrote, 'on the last day of Creation God desired to crown his work and thus created the Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breathe'. One hundred islands in the twenty mile long chain dot an azure sea.

Moored in Tribunj - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Spectacular cliffs face the setting sun whilst sheltered anchorages punctuate the eastern shores. The landscape is stark and lunar like, but awesome nonetheless. While some bays offer restaurants, most have the kind of solitude that will make a goat bell audible at 1,000 metres!

Sibenik quay - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

With 50 or so participants the rally, like other Mariner events, will have its own social momentum, which people can be part of or separate from to the extent that they choose. So if solitude is not on your agenda it’s easy enough to make a party. This of course is the case through the whole rally but there will be an expectation of participation in the final night celebration at which each crew is offered the opportunity to display their thespian, literary or musical talents!

The northernmost of the Kornati Islands on the rally route is Dugi Otok. The port of Sali on the south eastern shore is the original home of many Australian Croats who escaped the oppression of Tito’s communism during the 50’s. An Australian flag in Sali will almost certainly attract the attention of a local who has some connection with the Tuna fishing business in Port Lincoln, South Australia. Some have even brought their Tuna farming expertise home where they are closer to the markets of Europe!

The bookend at the northern end of the rally route is Zadar, almost unknown in Australia but equal to Dubrovnik as a surviving example of medieval architecture. Before the arrival of the Croats in the seventh century, Venetians, Liburnians, Ilyrians, Celts, Greeks and Romans had left their mark on Zadar, so the old town today offers a walk back through all of these civilizations. Zadar also offers an enticing cultural cocktail and in the summer there are frequent live music offerings. Like Dubrovnik, Zadar has been heavily damaged by wars, all be it different wars, and the reconstructed Zadar is arguably better than the original version according to those in the know. Zadar also features the world’s only organ that is played continuously by the sea.

Terminus for the rally will be Biograd na Moru, which sounds strangely Japanese but is actually the modern centre of tourism along this coast. The 700 berth Kornati Marina is home to the fleet of identical Bavaria 47’s that will be used in the rally. The 47 is set up to sail while still offering comfortable accommodation for six in three double cabins, with a fourth twin bunk cabin handy for storage and possibly two more people.

For the record the weather statistics show an average maximum of 25°C, a minimum of 16°C and an average wind strength of twelve knots during the first two weeks of September. The prevailing north-westerly wind follows the thermally driven Maestral pattern with the breeze powering up to a maximum fifteen knots from late morning to early evening. The rally program on the six fun-race days will therefore be a mid-day rendezvous at a swim/lunch stop prior to an afternoon race to the next overnight port of call in the program. The rest are lay days so there is no rush.

There are no major rivers and no big population centres through this part of the Dalmatian coast so the sea is famously clean. In early September the water temperature will still be a comfortable 23°C and there is no significant tidal movement, so really Kornati ticks all the boxes!

Dates: 31 August 2012 - 15 September 2012. More details are available from Mariner Boating Holidays at info@marinerboating.com.au or check out our website under 'World Wide Rallies'.

Fleet Start - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Close finish with one design fleet - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Kornati National Park sunrise - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Krka National Park falls - Kornati Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce