Balkhash-2014, the World Cup race of collapsible and inflatable sailboats, was held recently for the first time in Kazakhstan.
The event was organised by the Marins International Association of Collapsible Steering Multihulled and Inflatable Sailing Ships in collaboration with the Tabigat Ecological Union, the Almaty Federation of Sport Tourism and Pacific LLP.
The hosting of the event on Kazakhstan’s largest lake has its origins beginning in 2001 when the Tabigat Ecological Union under the leadership of Mels Yeleussizov, who has come to be known as the country’s “chief ecologist” for his multi-year campaigning, held the first Ile-Balkhash regatta. Gradually, the Purple Wind Festival, organised in the tract of Tamgaly Tas began to attract more and more tourists. Every year, this water rally attracts 5,000 people and 500 participants.
This time, a 325-kilometre route ran along the shore without crossing the lake. Thirty-six teams from Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries took part in the competition. The main guest of the tournament Anatoly Kulik, master of sports of the former Soviet Union who once crossed the ocean on a sailing catamaran, noted the amazing beauty of the lake.
The competition was fierce and some participants had to be checked by medical personnel on shore after their boats turned over. But the participants were satisfied with the event, which achieved its goal of drawing attention to the lake and its region.