Ioannis Maragkoudakis, president of the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) talks exclusively about the AEGEAN 600 race promoting Greece’s unique sailing environment.
Interview by Elsa Soimiri
With over 150,000 nautical miles experience in sailing races and trips across the sea, Ioannis Maragkoudakis is the mastermind behind the (HORC) Hellenic Offshore Racing Club’s AEGEAN 600 sailing regatta in its third edition this year – which will take place from the 7th to the 15th of July, following its initial success and its inclusion on the global sea racing agenda. The nonstop 605 nautical mile race designed by sailors for sailors, which sees a multitude of participating vessels this year, is constantly winning popularity and enriching its range of eligible classes with the recent addition of the biggest “Maxi” vessels category.
Indeed, the International Maxi Association (IMA) based in Monte Carlo, whose members own some of the most expensive and remarkable racing sailboats in the world, will also be competing at the AEGEAN 600 as it is on the schedule for the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge. With the ideal conditions of the Greek summer on their side, participants will chart the non-stop route starting from Sounio, to Milos, the Caldera of Santorini, Kasos, Karpathos, Rhodes, the islet of Kandelousa off the coast of Nisyros, Kos, Kalymnos, Kalolimnos, Farmakonissi, Agathonissi, Arkoi, Patmos, the Strait between Delos and Mykonos, Syros, the ‘naval fort’ of Gyaros and Kea island, before ending again in Sounio. In the lead up to the start of the race, we had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Ioannis Maragkoudakis who filled us in about what makes this journey through the Aegean so great and magical.
What does the Regatta’s impressive route, starting from Sounio, crossing the entire Aegean and passing by 13 Greek Islands, symbolize exactly?
The route of the AEGEAN 600 race has three main goals:
a. To promote the multitude and Greekness of the Aegean islands. b. To promote the contribution that the area as a whole has made to western culture. c. To promote Greece as a maritime tourism destination.
What unique elements do you believe will help in cementing the AEGEAN 600 as a ‘classic’ international sailing race?
The uniqueness of the route lies in the course and the wind conditions constantly changing. Due to the fact that participants sail by 14 islands, the scenery also changes along with each island’s distinct peculiarity.
How many cultural treasures fit into 605 nautical miles?
The birth of philosophy. The birth of the natural sciences. The development of poetry and the arts.
THE GREEKS CONSIDERED POSEIDON TO BE THE “MASTER OF THE SEA”
What parts of the route do you love most?
That’s a difficult question to answer as there are so many but if I had to choose, they would be:
Sailing past the island of Milos where your mind instantly thinks of the statue of Aphrodite and the Louvre which millions of people visit to admire this masterpiece of Greek art.
Sailing through Santorini’s incomparable Caldera which is such a unique geological phenomenon as well as an important pillar of Greek tourism.
Sailing through the Mykonos – Delos Strait, where the first island is considered the flagship of Greek tourism, while Delos, the second island instantly makes your mind wander to the ancient Greeks who considered it a holy island, the birthplace of the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis and the treasury of the Delian league. Last but not least, the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion – in front of which the race begins and ends – is also highly symbolic.
Regarding sustainability, the Regatta has been repeatedly honored with the Gold Level Clean Regatta Certification. In your opinion, what should the sport’s stand be when it comes to ecology related issues?
Sailing represents sustainability to the fullest as it uses the most natural elements within our environment, namely the sea and the wind. Suffice it to say that it represents sustainability’s most important ambassador.
SAILING REPRESENTS SUSTAINABILITY TO THE FULLEST AS IT USES THE MOST NATURAL ELEMENTS WITHIN OUR ENVIRONMENT, NAMELY THE SEA AND THE WIND.
With teams from over 13 countries participating, would you say that the Regatta represents a potential “meeting point” on the sea? To what extent is the event an indicator of the level of Greek tourism as well as an ambassador of our hospitality?
The fact that the AEGEAN 600 is now one of the six most famous 600 nautical mile races in the world also reflects how far the sport has come in Greece. At the same time, there are approximately 500 sailors from 14 nations, many of whom are important members of international society, which automatically makes them ambassadors of our tourism. Let’s also not forget the important role that the global media covering the event plays in promoting Greece.
What kind of response have you received from international participants about the event?
A common response is their admiration for the excellent course, the warm hospitality that they receive and their promise to compete again in the future.
What are the expectations for the 3rd AEGEAN 600 International Race?
We believe that over the years the race will gain further ground in terms of participation. For this year we believe that we will have over 45 entries from 15 countries. 6 Maxi vessels have already entered, which is unexpected for such a race as well as 4 multihull vessel entries, which also reflects the event’s growing global popularity.