TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Hundreds crowded the Labuang Beach in Majene, West Sulawesi, on the third Tuesday of August. As soon as the starting pistol was fired, they ran toward their sailboats and pushed them into the water. Shortly after, they jumped on the boats, paddled, and unfurled their sails to accelerate. Soon the sailboats had departed from the Labuang Beach.
A total of 22 boats set sail from the beach, on sailboats known as the sandeq. The traditional sailboats of West Sulawesi’s Mandar people are made of wood with double bamboo outriggers. The sandeq is far from massive, only 12-13 meters in length and 50-60 centimeters in width.
These traditional sailboats raced from the Labuang Beach to the waters of the Banua Sendana village in Majene, around 35 kilometers away. But not all of the sandeq managed to finish their journey. The strong wind that blew along their route caused several sandeq to capsize, among others Bintang Merdeka, Dewa Laut, Pammase and Surya Persada.
“The wind caused our boat to collide with another boat and capsize,” said Abdullah, a Bintang Merdekacrewman.
It took the rest of the sandeq nearly three hours to finish the race. Ullah, a Masya Allah crewman, said his sailboat and other sandeq were continuously assaulted by forceful wind, which caused increasingly tall waves. “This is why the sailors chose a route close to the coastline,” he said.
The sandeq race was part of the 2018 Festival Sandeq Race, held on August 11-17 in West Sulawesi. The race began at the Bahari Beach, Polewali Mandar, and concluded at the Manakarra Beach, Mamuju—unlike last year’s race, which began at the Manakarra Beach and finished at the Losari Beach in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
Besides the sandeq race, the annual festival also featured a number of events, including art performances, a documentary screening, and a people’s culinary feast.
Like last year, participants in this year’s festival competed in two race categories: triangle and marathon. The triangle race took place at the Bahari Beach, Labuang Beach, and Manakarra Beach. Meanwhile, the marathon race category was further divided into four groups: group 1 (Bahari Beach to Labuang Beach), group 2 (Labuang Beach to the Banua Sendana village), group 3 (Banua Sendana village-Deking Beach, Majene), and group 4 (Deking Beach-Manakarra Beach).
Masya Allah came out as the overall winner in this year’s competition, followed by Cahaya Mandar and Merpati Putih in second and third places.