KOTA KINABALU: The ‘Sail Malaysia Passage to the East’ 2022 Yacht Rally is scheduled to sail across the waters of Sabah next month, with about 20 boats participating.

With Kota Kinabalu as the starting point, the rally billed as one of Asia’s most anticipated sailing events is slated to begin from July 17 to August 27 with the final destination being Tawau.

On Wednesday, Sail Malaysia Managing Director Sazli Kamal Basha and SM Yatching Eastern Sabah Rally Director Wong Ming Rui met with the state’s assistant minister for Tourism, Culture, and Environment cum Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, to brief about the event.

Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, France, Thailand, Sweden, and the United States of America will be among the 10 countries represented by yachts during the ‘Sail Malaysia Passage to the East’, which returns to Sabah this year.

“This particular annual event has been going on since 2008 and has attracted 400 sailboats to Sabah from over 30 countries.

“For this year’s event, the number of participants is slightly less than the usual because our border just opened on April 1. So, getting boats ready can take some time for some people,” said Sazli.

Meanwhile, Joniston expressed hope that the yatch rally event would be the start of an uptick in maritime arrivals to Sabah.

“This is a niche adventure tourism and a unique way to explore Sabah. Being able to witness international participation in our seas shows that Sabah is a safe place for sailors.

“I see this as encouraging for us to market Sabah as a sailing vacation destination. I believe this will undoubtedly excite the interest of yachting enthusiasts worldwide.

“The Sabah Tourism Board will continue to provide the necessary support as it has done in the past to ensure that the event would go off without a hitch,” he said.

Throughout their journey through Sabah’s waters, participants will stop at numerous locations to discover the state’s beauty, including Kudat, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, and Semporna.

A cultural festival is also planned for Lahad Datu on Aug 15, with Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri due to attend.

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