13 September 2008

Funchal 500 Regatta started in Falmouth

Today the Funchal 500 Tall Ships' Regatta was started in the English port of Falmouth. The anticipation and excitement on the quayside was tangible as the ships and vessels prepared to leave the port. It seemed like the whole of the South West of England had turned out to wave goodbye to the fleet as they made their way out into the bay. The Sun shone on thousands of boats of all shapes and sizes, as they followed the precession of tall ships and sail training boats on the Parade of Sail, the traditional way of thanking the local community for their support and friendship during the days in port.

The wind was light and the nine tall ships were able to set some sails, putting on a spectacular display for the thousands of spectators on shore. The Russian full ship Mir (on the photo left, with blue stripe on her hull, behind small boats) led the parade, and the three-masted barque Cuauhtémoc (on the photo right, in the foreground), sail training ship of the Mexican Navy, brought up the rear.
As the fleet moved towards the start line of the race, the accompanying boats dropped away and the ships took up their positions in a north-westerly wind with a speed of 4-7 knots.

The barquentine Shabab Oman of the Royal Omani Navy, a regular participant in many tall ship races and events, was first across the line, but sadly seven seconds prematurely, which resulted in a penalty of a 360 degree turn. This means that officially the first three across the line were the beautiful Dutch brig Astrid, the three-masted German barque Alexander von Humboldt (which always stands out optically as the only tall ship with green sails) and the Cuauhtémoc.

Light wind and therefore slow progress meant that the fleet remained visible on the horizon of Falmouth Bay for the remainder of the evening. The present course is south-west, later to be changed to due south, as the first race goes from Falmouth to Ilhavo in Portugal. After four days of rest and recreation in port there, the second race will start on the 23rd and go to Funchal, the capital of the island of Madeira.

The Funchal 500 Tall Ships' Regatta, organised by Sail Training International (STI), and the Festival do Mar 2008 are the centrepieces of the year-long celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the elevation of Funchal (founded 1421) to city status by King Manuel I of Portugal in 1508.
The impressive fleet of Tall Ships and sail training vessels (for details see the list below) had gathered in Falmouth since Wednesday and is expected to reach Funchal on October 2nd.

The Emerald Islander

The ships and vessels participating in the Funchal 500 Tall Ships' Regatta are: Alexander von Humboldt (Germany), Astrid (Netherlands), Capitan Miranda (Uruguay), Challenger 1 and Challenger 4 (UK), Creoula (Portugal), Cuauhtémoc (Mexico), Endeavour (UK), Far Barcelona (Spain), Gedania (Poland), Juan de Langara (Spain), Kaliakra (Bulgaria), Mir (Russia), Pelican (UK), Pogoria (Poland), Sedov (Russia), Shabab Oman (Oman), Spaniel (Latvia), Steppe (Belgium), Tecla (Netherlands) and Viva (Latvia).

For an update on the regatta see my entry from September 25th

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