All 19 participating yachts have reached the finish line here."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The international Darwin to Ambon Yacht Race (DAYR) holds long-term advantages for the people of Ambon and Maluku, in general.

Expected to help improve the welfare of the local people over the long term, the annual event will also boost tourism to the Maluku province, particularly in the provincial capital of Ambon.

Ambon city Mayor Richard Louhenapessy noted that the international yacht rally is part of the local governments efforts to promote the city as a world tourist destination.

"The annual DAYR is inseparable from our efforts to make Ambon a world tourist destination," Richard said in Ambon on Friday.

After the establishment of the Darwin-Ambon sister city cooperation agreement in 1976, the DAYR and Rally was organized by the Cruising Yacht Association of Northern Territory Incorporated (CYANT), later that year.

From there, it became an annual event under the umbrella of the Sister City Program between Ambon and Darwin.

The 600-mile race between the two cities attracted some 100 entrants during its glory days in the 1990s.

CYANT ran the event from 1976 until 1998, when it was suspended for safety and security reasons. The event resumed in 2006 and continued until 2014.

Louhenapessy noted that the organizers of DAYR-2014 have ensured that the city of Ambon is now absolutely safe for tourists from around the world.

"The registration of participants from numerous countries entering this international yacht race from Darwin to Ambon has proven that the Maluku province, and particularly Ambon city, is perfectly safe for tourists to visit," Richard pointed out.

He claimed that the presence of DAYR participants from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy, and Singapore in Ambon further extended the promotion of tourism in Maluku.

"Their presence will have a positive impact on tourism here in the future and will dispel the impression that Ambon is given to violence," Richard remarked.

The mayor expressed optimism that the number of participants in the DAYR in the years to come will increase significantly.

After DAYR 2013, the participants spread the word among other sailors that Ambon should become a tourist destination for international sailors.

"We have to maintain such conditions that will continue to attract foreign tourists not only to Ambon but also to other districts and towns in the province," Richard stated.

With this in mind, he called for support from the central and provincial governments and the global network of sailors to familiarize people with the international DAYR and make it even better in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the DAYR organizing committee spokesman from Darwin, Robyn Dix, said all 19 yachts participating in DAYR 2014 have safely reached the finish line at Amahusu beach in Ambon.

"All 19 participating yachts have reached the finish line here," Robyn Dix stated at the Amahusu beach in Amahusu village.

He remarked that of the 19 yachts, Antipodes, skippered by Geoff Hill, was the first to cross the finish line at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Indonesia Standard Time (WIT), on Monday, after being flagged off from Darwin harbor last Saturday.

Antipodes was followed by Nautilus in second place and Australian Maid in third place, respectively skippered by John Punch and Jon Wardill on Tuesday, at 3:44 a.m. WIT and 10:13 a.m. WIT.

Successively arriving later on Tuesday were Freedom Express (with Ros and Deb McCombe as skippers), Gameset (John Mulkerns), and Evan Karma (John Hardy).

The rest of the yachts continued to trail in from Wednesday to Thursday in time for the welcoming ceremony in Amahusu village, which was enlivened by the local traditional dances of Orlapei, Katereji and Cakaiba, accompanied by Totobuang music.

Maluku Governor Said Assagaff stated that the attractive scenery of Amahusu village offered splendid sunset views for the sailors and yachters.

He remarked that in preparation for the race, facilities for mooring and post-race events had been set up at the beautiful beach in Amahusu village.

A 15-minute ride in a minibus from Ambon city center is all it takes to reach Amahusu beach to enjoy its crystal clear waters; it is the ideal spot for bathing, swimming, snorkeling and diving.

Amahusu village is very clean, and the local community welcomes tourists. At this coastal village, tourists can enjoy spectacular underwater panoramas, the pristine condition of the natural environment, and the unique local customs.

Governor Assagaff expressed hope that the DAYR participants and spectators, upon returning to their respective countries, would promote the scenic village as a second-to-none tourist destination in Ambon.

To remind the people of Maluku and all visitors of the fundamental peace and security enjoyed in Ambon, the local government erected a world-peace gong, the 34th of its kind, in the city center in 2009.

Decorating the surface of the gong were the national flags of various countries and the symbols of many religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

According to Governor Assagaff, since the erection of the monument, an increasing number of domestic and foreign tourists have visited the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon to see the gong.

"Since Ambon is now safe and the locals are friendly, tourists from all over the world can come here to enjoy the beauty of this tropical paradise and its rich cultural heritage," the governor remarked.

He also called on all public elements in the province to continue to maintain and preserve the areas security and stability so that the development process can run as planned.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2014