His Highness Prins Maurits of Oranje-Nassau van Vollenhoven together with the Princess Marilene of Oranje-Nassau brought some glamour to The Tall Ships’ Races in Den Helder yesterday when they attended both the Opening Ceremony and the Captains’ Dinner.
Photo: L to r: Mayor Hulman of Den Helder with His Highness Prins Maurits of Oranje-Nassau.
The Opening Ceremony drew a large crowd in front of the stage where the Prince and Princess joined Mayor Hulman of Den Helder and other local dignitories to watch a singer and orchestra. Mayor Hulman then welcomed the Captains and their ships to Den Helder and thanked them for bringing their vessels to the port for the biggest event that the city has ever seen.
Knut Western, the Chairman of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008, said that while the Olympics may be going on in Beijing, the young trainees that had just finished the race had been, “no less Olympic in their eagerness to win and with no less Olympic spiit.”
The Prince and Princess then led the Captains the short distance to the Captains’ Dinner. Patrice L’Hour, Captain of Etoile, the French Navy vessel, thanked the city of Den Helder on behalf of the captains, with a charming speech that made everyone laugh, including the royal guests of honour.
Entertainment during the dinner was provided by a talented violinist from the Royal Marine Band, a Royal Marine drum group and a French band of drumming Troubadors who danced around the diners before escorting them outside into the crowd. Once outside the Troubadors were lifted into the air on an unusual spider-like contraption, spotlit as they drummed in the sky and joined by a trapeze artist.
Today will see the crews parade through the streets in their traditional parade before the final prize giving. It is hoped the rain will stop falling long enough for them to fully enjoy the focus of the city’s attention.
Between 50-70,000 people are estimated to have visited the fleet yesterday with these numbers rising day by day to a peak on Saturday for the Parade of Sail. All the vessels are now in port.
August 21, 2008 | admin
The majority of the 65 vessels that will be in Den Helder for the final four days of The Tall Ships’ Races have now arrived. Still to arrive are Jolie Brise (UK) which is due in today at 1800 hrs local time, Picton Castle (Cook Isles), due today at 1700 hrs local, Sørlandet (Norway) due this evening at 2000 hrs, Kapitan Glowacki (Poland) and Johann Smidt (Germany) due tomorrow morning and John Laing (UK), which is currently in Calvyn and has not yet advised their eta in Den Helder.
All day the vessels have been arriving and berthing in the various parts of the port. The Class C and D vessels are predominently in the Natte Dok, the Class B vessels and a number of the smaller Class A vessels are berthed along the Koopvaardersbinnenhaven, a canal that runs along the edge of the port, with the larger Class A vessels berthed in the Het Nieuwe Diep, or main naval marina.
August 20, 2008 | admin
Tonight at 1745 hrs a welcome reception will be held at the Naval Academy at which all the Captains will be presented to the event’s patron, His Highness Prins Maurits of Oranje-Nassau van Vollenhoven and Princess Marilene of Oranje-Nassau. Immediately after the reception, the opening ceremony will take place, followed by the Captains Dinner which is being held at the Kathedraal, Willemsoord.
The official opening ceremony for The Tall Ships’ Races in Bergen took place last night at 1900 hrs on top of the tower at the Hotel Havnekontoret, which overlooks the harbour. Proceedings were started by a stirring song from local singer, Sigurd Sele, who is about to star in the production of Les Miserables in Bergen. Chief Commissioner of the City, Monica Mæland, then welcomed The Tall Ships’ Races fleet to the city and wished them all an enjoyable time while in the city.
Chairman of The Tall Ships’ Races 2008, Knut Western, then outlined to the watching crowds just what the event is about and how they had the ability to change lives through the experience of going to sea. He hoped many more people in Bergen would have the opportunity to sail on one of the ships in future races.
Crew from Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Bergen’s own Tall Ship, then sang shanty songs from along the yards. As the ship was berthed close to the tower, the crews’ voices sang out across the area, much to the delight of the crowd. Sigurd Sele then sang the Bergen anthem with many of the crowd joining in.
The captains of The Tall Ships’ Races fleet then walked the short distance to the Bergenhus Fortress where they were entained to a lavish dinner in the Hakonshall, a medieval hall with a high ceiling which was lit by candlelight. Bergen Mayor Gunnar Bakke, who hosted the dinner, welcomed the captains and said it was their pleasure to entertain them and hoped they would all return soon. Capitan Mario Carbajal Ramirez, captain of Cuauhtemoc thanked the city on behalf of the ships saying how honoured they were to be so warmly welcomed to the city.
Entertainment was provided by a sole drummer, whose sound reverberated around the hall, and a singer who sang two songs in a beautifully clear voice that was appreciated by everyone.
August 10, 2008 | admin
As the final vessels in The Tall Ships’ Races fleet arrived in Bergen this morning, so crowds of people turned out to see them. A huge carnival atmosphere quickly built up with the three stages around the town entertaining the crowds with jazz, shanty singing and other music.
A total of 84 vessels will be in Bergen for the four day festival prior to the start of the second race to Den Helder in the Netherlands. Crews arriving on the vessels reported having a fantastic time on the cruise in company, with all the little ports offering them welcome parties and other entertainment.
Arnau Garcia Hidalgo, a 16 year old from Barcelona, said he had a great time and enjoyed the cruise in company almost as much as he had the race from Liverpool. “I love coming into the new ports as there is always such a great welcome,” Arnau said. “The race was great fun and I learnt how important it is to be part of the team and that I can cope under stressful situations.”
The young man also said he’d love to take part in next year’s Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge as it would be, “a huge adventure and the ships visit two ports in Spain which would be really good fun.”
Arnau has been sailing on the Spanish vessel Far Barcelona which has returned to Norway after some 130 years. The vessel was built in Norway in 1874 in the same shipyard as the Norwegian vessel Loyal and yesterday the two vessels made a dramatic return to Bergen.
At 1900 hours the official opening ceremony will take place to be followed by the traditional captains’ dinner, to be held at the town hall. Later this evening will see a grand firework display over the harbour which is guaranteed to draw huge crowds.
A number of vessels still have berths available for the second race from Bergen to Den Helder which starts on Tuesday 12 August. These vessels include Kaliakra (Bulgaria), Pelican (UK) and Willliwaw (Belgium). Anyone interested should go along to the vessels in Bergen to find out more details.
August 9, 2008 | admin
A very special Captains’ Dinner was held last night at the Selje Monastery on the island of Selje a short distance from Maløy. The Monastery ruins, which date back to the 10th century, formed the most spectacular backdrop for what was voted the ‘best ever’ captains dinner that anyone could remember. Despite the rain, and many said because of it, the dinner was going to go down in history as particularly memorable.
The captains and their guests were taken to the location by boat and provided with rain macs as a light rain continued to fall for most of the evening. The rain, however, failed to dampen anyone’s spirits and the magical location, the excellent food and wonderful music created an atmosphere that will be hard to beat.
Vikings and serving wenches helped to give an authentic feel to the historic location with all the food having been sourced from the local area. Herbs for the bread and fruit for the desert had been gathered locally and crayfish, prawns and monkfish had been caught in the wates around the island.
Four local girls entertained the captains with some haunting and magical singing, made all the more special by the wonderful acoustics created by the surrounding mountains. Cheers were echoed back and fires and flaming torches surrounding the dinner added to the atmosphere. A band, atop of a cliff behind the tower and lit by spotlights, continued to entertain the captains, with many dancing on the grass despite the continuing rain.
Captain Toby Marris of Jolie Brise thanked the town of Maløy on behalf of the captains and entertained them with his memories of first hearing about the small town that was to host The Tall Ships’ Races. Everyone agreed it was without doubt the best captains dinner ever held and not even the mosquitos and rain could dampen their enthusiasm.
Today many of the crews will be changing in preparation for the Cruise in Company to Bergen that will start tomorrow, following the Parade of Sail. Visitors continued to descend on the town of Maløy to enjoy the sight of the vessels in port and the special atmosphere. To date more than 20,000 people are estimated to have visited Maløy since the ships arrived with more expected today and tomorrow.
August 3, 2008 | admin