Following the success of Sail Bunaken in 2009, Sail Banda in 2010, Sail Wakatobi - Belitung in 2011, Sail Morotai in 2012, and Sail Komodo in 2013, the Indonesian seas will again be highlighted with a colossal maritime event which this year will be centered around the paradisical islands of Raja Ampat , West Papua, in the Sail Raja Ampat 2014.
The pinnacle of the series of events will take place at Waisei Torang Cinta Beach on the island of Waigeo at Raja Ampat on 23rd June 2014, that will be attended by the President of Republic of Indonesia.
The international sailing event is expected to be participated by no fewer than 3,000 visitors from all over the archipelago and from Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Thailand, the Philippines, U.S.A, and more.
On a recent visit to observe preparations, Minister for Tourism and Creative economy, Mari Pangestu underscored that one principle reason for hosting such Events on far flung islands is to accelerate development. To support tourism development at Raja Ampat, the airport at Sorong – jumping off point to Raja Ampat – has been renovated, roads and infrastrcture improved and access eased. All these are aimed to benefit the local population.
Minister Pangestu further added that Raja Ampat, with its wealth of marine biodiversity located in the heart of the world’s Coral Trangle, must remain an exclusive tourist destination so as not to destroy its pristine environment. Today, the area is visited by around 15,000 tourists per year, and this will be limited to only 50,000 per year.
Among activities featured in the Sail Raja Ampat are: Health and Social Services, Lingkar Nusantara IV Sailing, Village Building, Archipelago Youth Sailing, Yacht Rally, National and International Seminars, Tourism Potentials Development, Culture and Creative Economy Development, Maritime Sports, regional potentials exhibition, and others.
Sail Raja Ampat 2014 is also held jointly with the Lake Sentani Festival near Jayapura, which will take place from 19th to 23rd June 2014. Highlight of the festivity is the Sail Pass of war ships, among which are 25 Indonesian Naval ships as well as from other countries.
Raja Ampat or the ‘Four Kings’, is the name given to the islands off the western coast of the large island of Papua. The four major islands found here are Waigeo, Misool (home to ancient rock paintings), Salawati, and Batanta.
Diving enthusiasts flock to this region since it offers the world’s most spectacular underwater life. Here divers will swim with mantas, whales, turtles and other large sea mammals. The territory within the islands of the Four Kings is enormous, covering 9.8 million acres of land and sea, home to 573 species of corals, more than 1,427 species of fish and 699 species of mollusks. This makes it the most diverse living library for world's coral reef and underwater biota. According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world's species live here.
To reach Raja Ampat, you can take a six hour flight from Jakarta to Sorong with a stopover in Makassar. Alternatively, you can also fly from Bali. There are daily ferries available between Sorong and Waisai, capital of the Raja Ampat district on the island of Waigeo. Ferries leave Sorong at 13.00 hrs and the journey takes between 1.5 to 2 hours. The return ferry from Waisai to Sorong leaves around 11.0 am. There are also speedboats for rent at Sorong.