Sail the seven seas, from the Caribbean to Taiwan

ANTIGUA

ANTIGUA

Antigua Sailing Week

25 April-1 May

This is one of the most popular dates in the international sailing calendar, with equal measures of competition and rum-fuelled revelry. The competition warm-up takes place with the Guadeloupe to Antigua yacht race on 22 April, which concludes in the atmospheric surroundings of English Harbour, followed by the Cavalier Rum Beach Party at Pigeon Beach in Falmouth Harbour. Big names in the sailing world are a feature of Antigua Sailing Week, with crews from the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race competing. The week draws to a close with Lord Nelson's Ball on 1 May. Tickets cost $40 (£25). For more information call 001 268 462 8872, or visit www.sailingweek.com

NETHERLANDS

Heineken Race of the Classics

19-25 April

This classic ships race has been organised by students for the past 16 years. It takes competitors from Rotterdam to Ostend, across to Ramsgate and on to Amsterdam. It is the largest non-professional maritime race in Europe. The fleet of 20 competing vessels, many more than 100 years old, is crewed entirely by students.

The victors and losers can celebrate and commiserate at the Port Side Party on 25 April. Spectators can catch the fleet in Rotterdam at de Veerhaven on 19 April, in Ostend at Oostende voor Anker on 20, in Ramsgate at the Royal Temple Yacht Club from 21-23 April and finally in Amsterdam on 25 April, subject to weather conditions. There is no fee to watch - just turn up at any of the ports and find a good position. For more information call 00 31 20 495 1260, or visit www.hrotc.nl

MEXICO

23rd International Cup Regatta, San Carlos

28-30 May

San Carlos in northern Mexico may be better known for whale watching or as the location for the anti-war film Catch 22, but each May, boat and yacht enthusiasts flock to the town for the annual Tucson Sailing Club's charity regatta. Cruising boats, yachts and catamarans can all take part in this charity event, with two full days of racing in the Bay of San Carlos. Proceeds go towards the Rescata Rescue San Carlos. The event kicks off with the obligatory party, the Martini Cove Raft-Up Boat Party at J Dock on 28 May and the races begin at around 10.30am each day. For more information call the San Carlos Tourist Office on 00 52 62 2226 0202, or see www.theriver.com/Public/TSC

FRANCE

Douarnenez Maritime Festival

16-20 July

This maritime festival finds a fitting home in the fishing port of Douarnenez in Brittany. The festivities are not confined to the water - film, debates and music are also on the menu. There will also be replicas of boats such as the 16th-century Russian Baltic trader Svyatitel Nikolai, an exhibition of marine art in the Halles de Douarnenez and daily races of working boats, yachts and traditional craft in Douarnenez Bay.

On 16 July, around 1,500 boats from the Brest-Douarnenez Regatta will arrive in the main port. Ticket prices range from €15-€20 (£11-£14) for adults and €5-€7 (£3.50-£5) for children aged 12-18. Group and family tickets are also available. For information call 00 33 2 9892 2929

TAIWAN

International Dragon-Boat Festival

19-23 June

Dragon Boat races are held as far afield as Hong Kong and Toronto, but the original and most spectacular are those in Taiwan. The legendary races are annual events held all over the country to commemorate the death of the poet Cyu Yuan, who drowned in 277BC on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, when the festival is celebrated. The most popular festival takes place in Taipei, with more than 100 international teams competing. Traditionally, the dragon-shaped boats race to a drum beat, and the competition and its ensuing celebrations are believed to bring good luck and prevent evil during the following year. For more information call the Taipei Tourist Board on 00 886 2 2570 2330, or visit the website www.taipeitimes.com

ITALY

Vogalonga, Venice

30 May

The Vogalonga boat race was dreamt up in 1974 by a group of Venetian rowers, who wanted to stage an open event that would promote rowing boats rather than the motorised craft that were destroying the city's waterways. The first race was held on 8 May 1975 and its course, which covers around 30km of Venice's canals, has remained virtually unchanged ever since. Around 1,000 boats set off from Saint Mark's Basin in front of the Doge's Palace and finish at the Punta della Dogana. In an attempt to revive Venetian heritage, traditional boats such as the mussin and pupparini (small craft with either two or four oars) have been restored for the event, along with miniature gondolas known as gondolini. Chinese-style boats have also been known to participate as well as the odd Oxbridge rower. Anybody can participate by registering in advance, and spectators can watch the event free along any of the canals. For more information call 00 39 41 521 0544 or go to www.vogalonga.it

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