TALL SHIPS SAIL ATLANTIC TO CELEBRATE BERMUDA’S 400TH ANNIVERSARY HISTORIC LIVE LINK UP TO SPACE STATION0
13 June 2009
A fleet of Tall Ships have just raced across the Atlantic to Bermuda and are now berthed alongside in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, to celebrate the island’s 400th anniversary of settlement. The fleet of 23 Tall Ships with some 1200 crew members are enjoying the warm Bermudian hospitality before embarking on the third race of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge series to Charleston, USA, 800 miles away.
The transatlantic race, which took the fleet from Tenerife to Bermuda, had to be called short because of the lack of wind, but the challenge and personal achievement for all those on board the ships, many of whom were young people under 25 years old, cannot be diminished.
The fleet ranged from the 115m Russian Tall Ship Kruzenshtern, one of the biggest Tall Ships sailing today, to the 13m yacht Xsaar from Belgium. Also taking part were ships from Romania, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Bermuda and the UK, including Rona II and Jolie Brise, two UK vessels that were crewed by young people all under 25 years old.
“The arrival of the Tall Ships fleet has been eagerly awaited by the people of Bermuda and the excitement has been building,” says John Wadson, Chairman, Tall Ships Bermuda Limited. “Ever since they were last here in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, we have been planning for their return and they are certainly one of the highlights of our 400th anniversary celebrations. It’s a real honour to have our own sail training vessel, the Spirit of Bermuda, participating in an international Tall Ships race for the first time,” he added.
In a unique and historic link-up, a number of the young crew members who had just crossed the Atlantic together with some school children from Bermuda, talked to astronauts on the International Space Station in a live telephone conversation.
The ten minute live link up took place in the presence of the Bermudian Minister of Education, the Hon El James, JP, MP and the Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Commerce, Hon Terry E Lister, JP, MP.
During the short window of opportunity when the International Space Station was directly above Bermuda, the crew members wished the Russian astronauts happy Russian National Day and the astronauts in turn congratulated Bermuda on their 400th anniversary. The three astronauts that took part in the telephone conversation, Russian Commander Gennadiy Padalka, Roman Romanenko and American Mike Barrett, then answered questions from the young people who were excited to talk directly to the astronauts as they passed overhead.
The questions asked ranged from the astronauts living conditions and leisure activities to muscle wastage and how they managed to wash. The astronauts answered the questions in good humour, explaining that while they had not managed to see the Tall Ships fleet as they crossed the Atlantic, they frequently looked down on Bermuda and enjoyed watching the tiny island in the Atlantic.
The astronauts explained that they were unable to surf the internet so communication with earth was not easy, but they did have an ability to send and receive messages through a mailbox system so could keep in contact with their families over the six month period they are in space.
One young Bermudian wanted to know what advice the astronauts had for the young people of the world. Commander Padalka replied that it was important to study hard, work hard and most importantly of all, to follow your dreams.
A Russian cadet from Kruzenshtern commented that on board ship it was not recommended to drink alcohol as this could have unfortunate repercussions so he wanted to know if there was anything that was best to avoid on the Space Station. The Russian Commander replied that in his opinion the worst thing that could happen for them was to stop moving because if that happened, the Space Station would fall to earth!
The direct link was the brainchild of the Russian Youth Aerospace Society “VAKO Soyuz”, which was created in 1988 to develop and implement national youth education aerospace programmes with the aim of increasing knowledge in the field of technical and human sciences, for peaceful space exploration and exploitation. Instrumental in the organisation of the link was space engineer Nathalie Pottier, a graduate of the Moscow Aviation Institute who has worked with the International Space Station and Launchers projects in Russia, United States, Netherlands, and France.
A short film of the astronauts sending greetings to the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge fleet can be seen:
The Tall Ships fleet will remain in Bermuda until Monday when they will take part in what promises to be a spectacular Parade of Sail around the island before departing in the race to Charleston, South Carolina. From there the ships will continue up the eastern United States to Boston and then on to Halifax in Canada, where a final race will bring the fleet back across the Atlantic to Belfast, where they are due for a final four days of festivities from 13 to 16 August.
The event, the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, organised by Sail Training International, has been timed to coincide with Bermuda’s 400th anniversary celebrations and the fleet’s presence is forming part of the highlight of the year-long celebrations.
For further information and images, please contact Corinne Hiching, email: Corinne.email@example.com, tel: +44 77641 83866.
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