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by Gary Hardy

La Ruta de la Sal - 12th to 15th April 2001



La Ruta de la Sal originally began as a commercial race during the year of 1846 by a fleet of large working sailing boats from the port of Barcelona. These merchant sailors would come here to the island, load up their vessels with salt and then race back to the mainland to be first at the market to sell and get the best price for their cargo of salt from Ibiza.

The Mediterranean Offshore Sailors' Association then formed La Ruta de la Sal as an annual regatta in 1989. The first event of this sailing boat race was over a route that started from the mainland of Spain at Port Ginesta and went across the Mediterranean to the island Formentera in which a total of 36 boats took part in the initial occasion.

This annual sailing event that is held during this period of the year has had the highest number of participants throughout Spain. It's brought together over two thousand competitors in an assorted fleet of sailing boats, which cross the Mediterranean in remembrance of the voyages that were made centuries ago by the merchants sailing boats from Barcelona to the Pitiüsas islands of Ibiza and Formentera in the pursuit of salt.

There is a yachting category for sailing boats which partake in the La Rita de la Sal and the individual groupings are as follows:

ALFA: For modern type sailing boats which were made from 1st January 1982

BRAVO: Classic sailing boats which were made before 31st August1981

CHARLIE: Vintage sailing boats which were made before 31st August 1971

DELTA: Multi-hull sailing boats and it's necessary that the hull to has a cabin.

ECHO: Racing and cruising sailboats that are in accordance to the formula FAP ³ 100.

KILO: Sailing boats with an IMS Cruiser certificate.

LIMA: Sailing boats with certificates for IMS Cruiser Racer and IMS Racer.

FOX-TROT: Sailing boat for a solitary sailor.

GOLF: Sailing boats with a crew of only two sailors.

HOTEL: Sailing boat which only comprises of a (male and female) couple.

To form a category it will be necessary to have a minimum of five sailing boats. If there are five or more of the identical model of sailing boats in the same category then a sub-category will automatically be formed. These sailing boats will compete against each other in real time and at the same time in compensated time in accordance to the boat's category.

The categories FOX-TROT, GOLF and HOTEL are restricted to mono-hulls in accordance with the IRC system. Subject to the number of participants, each category will be sub-divided by the Regatta Committee into groups according to the length and size of each individual sailing boat. The minimum length for a sailing boat that takes part in this regatta is 8.50 metres. However, the regatta's committee might make exceptions and allow sailing boats to enter the race with an over all length of between 8.00 metres and 8.50 meters.

This year's La Ruta de la Sal event is the fourteenth regatta of its kind and the organizers have limited the number of official entries to 300 vessels. This varied fleet of sailing boats has been then split up into two separate versions of 150 sailing boats in each group to make up this year's race from two separate starting places on the mainland of Spain and across the Mediterranean Sea to Ibiza.

The first group to depart from the mainland of Spain is the Northern Version, which sets sail from Barcelona's Real Club Marítimo at 12 o'clock noon on Thursday 12th April. Without having a fixed route the boats in this group should sail a minimum distance of 159 nautical miles before their expected arrival in the harbour of Ibiza on the 13th and 14th April.

The second group to depart from the mainland of Spain is the Eastern Version, which will leave from the Port of Denia Náutico at 4'oclock on the same afternoon of Thursday 12th April. The boats in this group of the race will add a further 13 nautical miles to their course by having to keep the islands of Formentera and Tagomago on the port side and they should travel a minimum distance of 117 nautical miles before arriving in the harbour of Ibiza.

The real time winners in both versions of the regatta will each win a trophy. The overall winners of each version are the two boats which arrive first according to the general classifications of the race. Furthermore, the first three boats of the same type in each category and sub-category of each of the two separate versions will also each win a trophy.

The regatta's trophy presentation ceremony will take place during the La Ruta de la Sal celebration dinner which will be held at the Palacio Ferial in Ibiza on Saturday 14th April 2001.

The Regatta Pont Marítim Pitisüs-Formetera 2001 will take place on the final day of La Ruta de la Sal which is Sunday 15th April. This is a 12 nautical mile race which begins from the port of Ibiza and finishes at the port of Sabina in Formentera and all the sailing boats entered here can compete against each other.

Finishing up: During the sailing boat race La Ruta de la Sal 2001 safety measures and telecommunications play an important part in a regatta. Therefore, a boat from the organization will follow the fleet on the Northern Version of the race and in this year's event a new control system will follow the regatta in real time by Internet.

Gary Hardy