Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Parade of sails

July has been such an eventful month for us – that is compared with the slow life we normally lead – that I have fallen very much behind with my blogging. Nevertheless, I promised a post on the tall ships departing from Helsinki a week ago on Saturday. So here are some photos of the ‘Parade of Sails’ of The Tall Ships Races 2013 vessels heading off for the so-called Cruise-in-Company leg to Riga, Latvia.

Tre Kronor af Stockholm.

Pelican of London.

Cisne Branco from Brasil.

We decided to bid the ships farewell from Pihlajasaari, one of the recreational islands off the coast of Helsinki. The actual race started from one of the lighthouses outside of Helsinki so we didn’t see the ships in full sail but they were spectacular enough for us even when gliding away in a queue along the coast by island to island towards the open sea.  

Kapitan Glowacki from Poland.

Astrid from Helsinki.
Alexander von Humboldt II from Germany.

All the shores and islands south of Helsinki were patched with thousands of spectators. 

Not to mention that the sea was full of boats escorting the ships. The boaters and yachtsmen were often almost blocking the way for the ships, or so it seemed at least to a layman.

Götheborg from Sweden.

Tenacious from the UK.

Christian Radich from Norway.

A few of us had gone to extremes to have the best views of the exceptional event. The old DC-3 and the Cessna floatplane were flying so close to each other it felt like a real flyby.

Since leaving Helsinki, the ships have arrived at Riga, stayed there for a few days and departed for the second race to Szczecin (Stettin), Poland, where they will stay for visitors to admire from Saturday, August 3 to Tuesday, August 6.

The Cuauhtemoc from Mexico stole the show with sailors up on the yards also when departing from Helsinki.

Should you have developed an interest in the tall ships by now it might still be possible for you to see some of them this season as there will be two more events for these kinds of ships this year. The Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta 2013 from Barcelona through Toulon to La Spezia will take place between Saturday, September 21 and Monday, October 7.

Kruzenstehrn from Russia.

The Sydney to Auckland Tall Ships Regatta 2013, the first ever Sail Training International event to be held on Australasian waters, will visit Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart in early to mid-September before arriving at Sydney on Thursday, October 3 and at Auckland on Friday, October 25.

Farewell Helsinki. Hope to meet you again as soon as possible, but in four years at the earliest. Until then you’ll have to get along with the Tallinn, Stockholm and St Petersburg ferries and the other regulars such as the cruise liners visiting your harbour every once in a while.

My earlier posts on The Tall Ships Races 2013 here and on the Mexican Cuauhtemoc here.

Carnival Legend (built in Helsinki and christened by Dame Judi Dench in Essex in August 2002).

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Crowd favourite

May I present to you the barque Cuauhtemoc, the 90-metre sail training vessel of the Mexican Navy named after the last Aztec Emperor. She was no doubt the Helsinki crowd favourite in The Tall Ships Races 2013.

Visitors were not only welcome on board but their flow was perfectly planned and managed. We were even entertained by sailors climbing up to the yards to attend the sails just for demonstration.

Everything about the vessel was impeccable, including the good-humoured crew of more than 250 members, both those on duty and those we saw spending some free time downtown.

It was a real pleasure to take a tour on this deck. No wonder the crew of the Cuauhtemoc often steals the show wherever they land during the nine months they spend sailing annually.

My previous post on The Tall Ships Races 2013 here.

Monday, 22 July 2013

One in half a million

For a few days last week, Helsinki hosted The Tall Ships Races 2013, an event bringing together more than a hundred sailing vessels from around the world under the Sail Training International non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the development and education of young people through the sail training experience. Any monohull vessel with a waterline length of more than 9.14m fulfilling the safety requirements can participate provided that at least half of the crew is aged between 15 and 25.

Every four years, The Tall Ships Races take place on the Baltic Sea. This time the first leg started from Aarhus, Denmark, on Sunday July 7 and the fastest ships reached Helsinki on Monday July 15. From Wednesday to Saturday all the ships were berthed for everyone to admire in Hietalahti on the western coast of Helsinki close to the city centre. Almost everyone came to have a stroll around the harbour area with their camera as the tall ships hadn’t been seen in Helsinki since 2000.

Mir from Russia.
Cisne Branco from Brazil and Roald Amundsen from Germany.
According to Sail Training International, The Tall Ships Races is the second largest spectator sport or exhibition event after the Olympics. The local organizers of the four-day event expected half a million visitors, which was reached. Quite an achievement in a country with no more than 5.4 million inhabitants.

Cisne Branco from Brazil.
Tenacious from the UK.

I am sure everyone who attended was most pleased and impressed. We certainly were. We drove to Helsinki twice just for the ships, first on Friday to see the glorious sight of them berthed in the harbour and then on Saturday to witness them gliding away from Helsinki towards the second leg to Riga, Latvia (my post on the departure here).

Statsraad Lehmkuhl from Norway and Wylde Swan from the Netherlands.
Wasn’t there an abundance of marvels to see! Often two, three or even four ships were docked side by side. Some were big, others were huge and having them all gathered together around the dock was brilliantly monumental.

Shtandart from Russia.
The weather was very variable on Friday turning from sunshine to rain and back again within minutes. The ‘spectators’ didn’t mind but continued to queue to the dozen or so vessels that were still open for visitors on their last afternoon in Helsinki.

Götheborg from Sweden.

One of the vessels attracting visitors the most was the Swedish Götheborg. It is a detailed replica of the 18th century vessel of the same name that sank off Gothenburg in 1745 and was recovered in 1984. The new Götheborg was built using the original traditional methods as much as possible – even the ropes are of hemp and the sails of linen – but for safety reasons the inside is equipped with modern technology and facilities. Götheborg was not open for visitors on Friday so we had to settle for the exterior.

Alexander von Humboldt II from Germany and Fryderyk Chopin from Poland.

Above another of the many main attractions: Alexander von Humboldt II, a German training ship.

Kruzenstehrn from Russia.

For some reason the Russian training ship Kruzenstehrn, one of the world’s largest sailing vessels, had been moved outside the event area but despite the rain we spotted it in the distance. They were probably preparing to host some special guests away from the bustle on the last night before setting sail towards the next destination.

Some of us took the most of the rare occasion.

Mir from Russia in the distance.

These must be crew members as the Hietalahti harbour area was closed for visitors’ boats. There was so much to see it was impossible to notice every detail. Below a few of the beautiful figureheads that managed to catch my eye.

Finally, the crowd favourite was the crew of the huge Mexican training ship Cuauhtemoc. They are famous for charming the audience on arrival, on departure and every day in between. I believe they deserve a post of their own (here).

Cuauhtemoc from Mecixo.