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Sailing in Montenegro

An interview with Becki Milton, Marina Sales Manager & PM race team

What was it that first attracted you to sailing as a sport?

About 5 years ago when I was living in Brighton, I was an Operations Manager for a large international company and spent most of my time moving around the UK trouble shooting problems in our various offices. It was a stressful job so to take some time out and relax, I signed up for a week’s sailing course.

I had never been on a sailing boat before but I was immediately addicted to the fun and the learning curve of sailing! I remember being shocked the first time the yacht heeled over but I was completely hooked and spent all my holiday time and weekends from then on working up to my yacht master qualification.

What is it about sailing that you love?

Being at sea in the peace and quiet and not being able to see land is so liberating and relaxing – in the right weather! Sailing can be as technical or as simple as you wish to make it, and you never finish learning. I know people that have been sailing yachts for fifty years and they are still learning.

I love offshore racing because it is one of the few unique sports that tests you equally on your performance individually and as part of a team. There have been many times I have been sat on the rail during the night, freezing cold, exhausted and soaking wet with waves mercilessly crashing over me, knowing there are many more days of this to come! You need to dig deep to get through some of those nights and it’s at these points, you discover who you really are, how you handle yourself and others in tough times and how you respond in a crisis.

Which sailing events have stood out to you the most?

The 2007 Fastnet was my first race, just 4 months after I did my very first sailing course in Brighton. It was the only year in the history of the race that the committee postponed it by a day – the forecast was looking pretty ruthless and unfortunately our boom broke and it was over. I returned in 2009 to do it again and this time we had a much more successful race!

The 2008 RORC Atlantic race from Southampton to Madeira and back was one of the best months of my life. Surfing down that big Atlantic swell in our little 38 foot boat is a memory I treasure and have always wanted to re-visit.

Tell us about what it's like to sail in Montenegro.
Sailing here is a true joy – the bay is the largest in the Adriatic and is essentially a fjord, so you can imagine how beautiful the scenery is. We have a mixture of soaring mountains, hidden bays and petite islands to enjoy. Combine that with the very deep, still waters and you have a magical blend of flat sea and interesting wind patterns.

Racing here in the bays is tactically very interesting because we have our own micro-climate with plenty of wind shifts and sea breezes. Porto Montenegro runs a local regatta (followed by a BBQ in the yacht club) on a weekly basis for most of the year and this summer it was always over booked!

Do you feel sailing in Montenegro is growing?

The coast of Montenegro has a long and intertwined relationship with the sea and sailing – many of the locals living here today are strong, experienced sailors whose families have been holding their own regattas for centuries. We regularly enter our yachts into these local regattas!

In September Porto Montenegro partnered with Rijeka yacht club to create the Thousand Islands Race. This 600nm race ran from Rijeka, through over 1000 islands along the Croatian coast, to Porto Montenegro and attracted racing yachts from around the world. This inaugural year saw 12 yachts participate and everyone involved feels strongly that the race has a bright future because of the variety of conditions it offers.

How else is Porto Montenegro attracting more sailors to Montenegro?

Porto Montenegro is very pro-active when it comes to organising and attending sailing events. I think to date I have raced in over 20 separate regattas this year under the Porto Montenegro brand and feel incredibly lucky to have a job with a marina that encourages its employees to stay active on the water. We are lucky enough to have a small fleet of 4 ‘Blu 26’ keel boats and 2 Tofinou yachts which we use for our annual international-club regatta and Classics Cup held at the beginning of the season.

What lies ahead for sailing in Montenegro?

We hope the marina’s growing international awareness will attract sailors from other parts of the world and establish Montenegro as a serious and viable base for international regattas and sailing events for any size yacht. Many of the bigger boat classes are always looking to discover new and exciting event grounds and I personally think it is only a matter of time before we see a larger class benefit from the flat seas and deep waters that we offer here. Plus with over 40 shops, bars and restaurants, our marina is the perfect pre-made race village!

Already we have seen a huge upturn in visiting charter yachts this year, the word is spreading that Montenegro is a great place to sail, unspoilt and protected by UNESCO Heritage. The yachts that once sailed right past us on their way to Croatia or Venice are now making a point to include Montenegro in their journey, partly thanks to the relaxed yachting regulations and minimal charter restrictions that we have here. The fact that Montenegro’s VAT stands at just 7% compared with the EU highs of 20% and that we offer duty free and tax free fuel, is merely an added bonus!

For more information on sailing and PMYC regattas please email pmyc@portomontenegro.com