The 6th International Nereid’s Rally has been cancelled. This is in spite of the fact that plans were on stream for September 13 to be hosted at Hurakabra River Resort and welcomed to Guyana at a lunch hosted by Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin.
The International Rally which was scheduled to host, to date, some 15 yachts, has suffered the sudden, short notice withdrawal of 11 yachts resulting from the widespread domestic and international publicity given to what has been described in the headlines of our domestic media as “Fallout from deadly high seas attack… Suriname… several undocumented Guyanese”, Kaieteur News and “Suriname arrests 13 Guyanese suspects in piracy attack”, Demerara Waves.
These headlines have found their way into the international media, on to the specialist websites upon which cruising yachts rely for their information and, most recently, less than a week ago, into a major Washington Post story reporting on attacks at sea on Trinidad & Tobago boats (not yachts) from Venezuela offshore Trinidad.
The Washington Post story, unfortunately, reports that: “In April, masked men boarded four Guyanese fishing boats floating 30 miles off the coast of the South American nation”. The story reports that “David Granger, the President of Guyana, decried the attack as a “massacre”. The story further reports that “Guyanese authorities linked the story to gang violence in Suriname”.
Sadly for Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, whose offshore seas are traversed by the International Nereid’s Rally, have been labeled in the minds of yachtsmen as a place where piracy occurs and where they do not belong. It is to be appreciated that the owners of the majority of these yachts are “live aboards”. The boats are their homes at sea.
Kit Nascimento who has been intimately involved in the planning and development of identifying Bartica and the Essequibo River as a Caribbean yachting destiny for the past 20 years and who is a representative of the organizers of the International Rally, expressed “his huge disappointment and frustration at this setback to the progress we have made in making Guyana and the Essequibo River a place where yachts are welcomed and can safely sail to enjoy themselves and, at the same time, enjoy Guyana. One yacht, for instance, had already requested a booking for its crew and friends to visit Kaieteur Falls”.
Mr Nascimento went on to say “it is particularly frustrating because what he calls ‘criminal attacks on small fishing boats’ offshore Suriname and Guyana have been blown into ‘piracy on the high seas’ which is entirely untrue and misrepresented of the reality”.
He went on to say that he hopes to work closely with the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority to address this challenge with which a vital tourism event for Guyana is now unfairly confronted.
It is worthy of note that, in the recent Regional Tourism Consultation Workshop at which Regions were challenged to name their Flagship Projects, Region 7’s Chairman, Mr. Gordon Bradford, identified “yachting” as the Flagship Project for Bartica.
Nascimento’s release confirms the report in the News Room release 3 days ago, that the International Rally was threatened cancellation.