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Annual Zihua Sailfest Enjoys Outstanding Success

The annual Zihua Sailfest is a two-week event that takes place in the city of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Each February, cruisers come together and participate in the festivities to raise money in support of local children’s education. It all began in 2001 when more than 100 boats arrived in Zihuatanejo with the aim of helping a local school. They held the first Sail Parade and raised $2,000 USD. The money was matched by a donation from Richard and Gloria Bellack and used to buy school supplies, which were brought back the following year. In addition to bringing the supplies, the mariners put their energies into painting and repairing the school. This was the beginning of Sailfest.

This year, Sailfest raised 3.7 million pesos (around $207,000 USD) through events such as the annual chili cook-off, music concerts, auctions, the 5K Sailfest walk/run event, and trips aboard some of the participating sail and motor boats.

Cruisers’ contributions of music and sunset cruises, participation in the Rally and Sail Parade, and the Calcutta on the Rally raised 1,159,876 pesos. (A Calcutta is when boats participating in the rally get friends to send money to bet on their boat. The Calcutta alone brought in 113,400 pesos.)
© 2023 Margaret Reid

“The cruisers took 755 guests onboard for sunset, music, rally, and the Sail Parade. There were a total of 29 boats, but some came early and left early and some came late and are still here…” Sailfest Chairperson Carol Romain wrote in a newsletter, adding that the stayers were most likely waiting for Guitarfest, which began on March 4.

sailfest 2023
The Rally Round the Rock was a popular event that many enjoyed from the sidelines.
© 2023 Margaret Reid
Pictured above are Reverence, Rocketeer, Voyager, and the rally winner, Azure
© 2023 Karen Cooper

Ziva, Rocketeer and Freedom Kirkland were given a special mention for the most guests and bringing in the most money. “All our heroes,” Reid said.

Sailfest champions a very good cause, as is evidenced from a letter penned by one of the local youths.

“One of the reasons we do what we do.”
© 2023 Sailfest

Pamela Bendall, another of the Sailfest organizers, wrote, “Sailfest is an educational fund raiser for some of Mexico’s poorest children. The project began in 2005, and now over 6000 children are being educated through our program — who would otherwise never see the inside of a school. You never have to wake our students up for school… It’s a privilege for them!

“Since 2005, we have built 143 classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and playgrounds, including 14 new schools. Our nutrition program feeds 120 students at Casa Para Niños where every child comes from a low income family. In addition, Por Los Niños also provides wells for water to two schools.

“During the pandemic Por Los Niños fed on average 1300 meals per week when the entire region was shut down.

“Approximately 100 of our students from the early years are proudly attending university! Many are returning to the community to give back!”

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  1. Elayne White 1 year ago

    A WONDERFUL event to be able to participate in. I enjoy it every year!!!

  2. Marlaina Pipal 1 year ago

    Great news, and well directed kindness for these children, the future of this community and wherever they go.

  3. We did this in 2002 which started well before 2002. As I recall over 100 boats participated that year. You mentioned Sailfest began in 2005. Is that a typo?
    Glad to event is still going on and so successful!
    Formally of S/V Compania

  4. Craig Russell 1 year ago

    In 2019, we sailed in to watch Guitarfest and participate in Sailfest. The Guitarfest is held right on the beach as well as smaller venues in town. It is a wonderful celebration of music and life

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