Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

Europe hosts two great sailing events this summer: the America's Cup Jubilee and the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races. This year over 100 vessels are taking part in the Tall Ships' Races; in July and August you can take part in the festivities in Antwerp, Ålesund, Bergen and Esbjerg when the vessels are visiting the ports of call.

Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races is one of the greatest international sailing events in the world and has been organised every year since 1956. The aim of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races is to enable young people of all nations to race together at sea under sail, experience the thrills and challenges of racing, and to let them make friends regardless of nationality or background.

The race is organized annually by The International Sail Training Association (ISTA). Since 1972 the main sponsor for the event is Berry Bros. & Rudd which owns the Cutty Sark Scots Whisky. Since then, the name of the race has been Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race.

Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race 2001 is a combination of races and cruise in company. On the leg between Antwerp and Ålesund and on the leg between Bergen and Esbjerg the competition will be fierce, with national as well as personal pride at stake. On the leg between Ålesund and Bergen the ships will be cruising in company and deciding their own route through the magnificent Norwegian Fjords. Many crews will be swapping ships to foster the spirit of international friendship.

The principal award at the end of each series is the Cutty Sark Trophy - a silver model of the famous clipper. The trophy epitomizes the objective of the races, for it goes not to the winner but to the vessel, which has done the most to help foster international understanding and friendship during the races. It is awarded on the vote of the captains and crews of all the vessels in the fleet.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors, and in Antwerp literally millions, will be drawn by the spectacle of the magnificent ships and the carnival atmosphere.

Report from Bergen: August 5

With Force 5 winds from the northwest (approximately 30 knots), Stad Amsterdam and Dar Mlodziezy engaged in one of the most exciting starts to a Class A race in Cutty Sark Tall Ship Race history. From a starting line adjusted to wind conditions and a northerly current, both full-rigged ships sought to gain position and the lead while remaining ahead of the fast closing Mir, Sedov, and Kruzenshtern. Heeling a full 30 degrees, the Dar pushed her crew and sails to the limit in trying to gain advantage over the quicker, up-straight Stad.

Stad appeared to gain the upper hand as the wind lightened during the first night, and quickly gained a 25-mile lead over the heavier Dar. But as the winds changed to a more northerly, full-stern position, the Dar began to close the gap as she "ran free" before the wind, and drew within eight miles.

Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

Photos courtesy Tall Ships Newswire

In posting the provisional results of the Bergen-to-Esbjerg race, it was announced that in the Class A competition Stad Amsterdam, Dar Mlodziezy and Kruzenshtern placed first, second and third. The final announcement will be based on corrected times using the unique handicap system developed to give as many vessels as possible a chance in the race. The largest sail training square riggers in the world are therefore able to race against small modern yachts and traditional gaff riggers.

In the aftermath of the race both captains were exhilarated by their ships' and crews' performances, and expressed gratitude for the fierce competition. Dar's Captain Marek Szymonski diplomatically expressed his distress at being "between a rock and a hard place" -- that is, between the lighter Stad Amsterdam and Mir -- both of which had the advantage in lighter winds. Captain Szymonski saluted his fellow captains, and praised "good wind, a well-established starting line, and good competitors."

Captain Robin Snouck Hurgronje of the Stad Amsterdam was a bit more ebullient, and called the first 24 hours of the race, the "most exciting day of my sailing life!" Citing the excellent positioning of the race starting line by Race Director Peter Newell of the International Sail Training Association, the captain said he gained the lead when winds on the stern quarter increased the first night to Force 6; and, though he "sailed a greater distance," gained more speed than the heeling Dar.

In his comments about the race, Captain Hurgronje recalled an anecdote from Dutch maritime history. To spur his crew on, he repeated the words of legendary Dutch schooner captain van der Poel, who when being chased by armed cutters off French Guiana as he assisted prisoners escaping from Devil's Island, looked up and shouted to his crew, "Sail, Sail, Sail! Your captain is in trouble."

Captain Hurgronje said he had exactly that thought as he looked over his stern and saw a cluster of Class A's -- Mir, Sedov, Kruzenshtern, Stavros Niarchos, Europa and Fryderyk Chopin -- bearing down on him, and, on his starboard side, the Dar heeling almost parallel to the water.

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