The land of the fabled Minoans was the scene last month of the first Crete Union Cup Regatta sailing event ever organized. Organized as a celebration of the centennial unification of Crete with mainland Greece and with the support of several Crete´s yachting clubs, the Region of Crete, the Hellenic Sailing Federation, and many local sponsors, the race consisted of three legs in between the North coast harbors of Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Aghios Nikolaos.
Today, we have the chance to understand what this event meant, through the eyes of the winner, Elias Kovatzis, captain of the yacht El Viento, interviewed by Katerina Ramoutsaki, Lato Boutique Hotel Executive (where his victory won accommodations in sponsor’s executive suites).
Elias, who is a sailing instructor based in Naytathlitikos Omilos Gazou, began his sailing adventures in Athens at the age of ten. The winner of the first ever Cretan Union Cup even studied sailing at the prestigious University of Gymnastics there. Now a native of Heraklion.
Elias is married and has two children who, he says, already show his own love and respect for the sea, as well as the sport he so much loves. His boat El Viento was named in honor of wife and the Manu Chao song. Winner of several regattas and many sailing awards, Kovatzis, when asked about the Union Cup, said:
“The organizing of this event was remarkable. I only wish that there will be many other such events held off Crete in the future. All the organizers and sponsors, especially Mr. Pallikaris (Chairman of the organizing committee), did a fantastic job for this momentous first event.”
Let´s remember that from ancient times Cretan waters have been “crossroads” for the sailors and navigators of all the Mediterranean, the legend and lore, Minoan civilization recall a seafaring nation way before the Phoenicians.
Speaking with one of our editor’s associates, a Ms. Ramoutsaki of Lato Boutique Hotel who interviewed the captain, question about sailing on Crete, and El Viento´s came up in our own version of the story. Elias commented to Visit Greece and the Lato Hotel exec about Crete as a destination for sailors:
“Greece is a very good sailing destination, and especially off Crete there probably should be 2 or 3 regattas per year, possible with a change the destinations every time. Outside the current ports of Rethymnon, Chania, Heraklion, and Agios Nikolaos, smaller ports like Georgioupoli, Bali and others offer fabulous sporting and event opportunities.”
Having won the overall race, Elias and his crew had their share of setbacks during the event. At one point the captain and crew had to suck it up and overcome one of their main sails going down. The wrecked balloon sail in the final leg between Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos was not enough to put El Viento out of action though. The skipper of the boat came to praise his hearty crew for their effort to fend off disaster too.
In keeping with all sailing tradition, Elias Kovatzis also reflected on the sport in general during his conversation with Lato Boutique Hotel’s Executive Coordinator. The winning skipper elaborates:
“One very important thing sailors learn about this sport is how to bring the boat back up when it turns down. Sailing gives people confidence, focus, virtuosity, inner power, self purity, the sport demands and makes you a whole better person apart from the fitness. These are the values we should all teach our children. For this and many other reasons, we should try to bring more people closer to this fine sport.”
When asked about his vision for this event, for his sailing fantasy in the seas of Greece, Kovatzis said simply: “My vision is to see the Cretan sea full of sails.”
Captain Kovatzis won a stay at the aforementioned Lato’s Boutique Hotel in the Executive Suite. no less. Other sponsors of these events included: The University of Crete, Anek Lines, TV Creta, the Bali Star hotel, Blue Sea Resort & Spa, the City of Heraklion, and dozens more. For the full list of sponsors, more images and news, please visit the Cretan Union Cup Regatta website.