The Corfu Challenge besides bringing yacht racing to a new, if very ancient, sailing venue also brings back another old tradition, that of a race flag, a banner specifically designed for Corfu Challenge.
This year Corfu Challenge commissioned the design of a flag that brings together the defining characteristics of the island of Corfu, its most beautiful and striking colors, while at the same time acknowledging the nautical heritage of the area.
The word Corfu is derived from the Greek word Κορυφές (pronounced Kor-EE-fes) meaning “the heights”. The name refers to the two hills that form the indomitable peninsula fortress of Corfu town. The island was defined by these two heights because they have, from antiquity to the Second World War, functioned both as a gateway to the Levant (the eastern Mediterranean and beyond) and as a bulwark protecting Europe from Ottoman invaders. The heights are referenced in the flag as the two triangles on the hoist side.
The flag’s colors are a combination of the Venetian heritage of the island with a nod to British colonial rule. The Venetians held the island for more than four centuries leaving their architecture and the terra-cotta colors on the faces of buildings, colors that you can see throughout Corfu and which add to the islands unique character. The burnt sienna colorway on the flag comes from this lineage. The British stayed less than a century but radically transformed the island. The green on the flag is a complementary color on buildings as most shutters are painted green. The specific green hue is British Racing Green reminding the sporting culture that Britain imported into the island. Corfu is the only place in Greece with a cricket pitch.
As this is a flag of a yacht race, the flags’ previously mentioned symbols, “the heights”, also reference the shape of yacht club burgees. White was chosen being the color of the reek Flag, of hope, as well as a dominant color in many burgees. Lastly, the Corfu Challenge burgee is a derivation of the flag arrived at by turning it around and removing the white element to create a swallow-tailed burgee, a shape that flies most easily in any wind condition.