Antwerp – the first port of The Tall Ships Races 2016 – bid a fond farewell to the international fleet Tall Ships as they sailed together along the River Scheldt in a spectacular Parade of Sail today (Sunday 10 July).
Crowds gathered all along the riverside to wish the competitors a safe passage to the race starting point in Torbay, UK and “fair winds” in the first race leg to Lisbon, Portugal.
Antwerp has seen a glorious four days of weather for the festival, something that has welcomed over 500,000 visitors to see the fleet. All of Antwerp’s previous Tall Ships events seen success, and 2016’s race has shown that tradition continuing to grow.
The fleet began undocking at 0800 hrs and spent the morning preparing for the parade down the River Scheldt, which started at 1400.
“Race One of The Tall Ships Races 2016 starts five miles off the coast of Torbay, UK. The STI Race Committee needs to start the race here due to international shipping regulations out of Antwerp, through the Dover Straits and into the English Channel. The traffic separation schemes through these areas of high volume commercial shipping mean that sailing routes are unsuitable for the tall ships race fleet.
“Torbay offers an ideal start area for the international fleet, particularly the large square rigged sailing vessels – and coincidentally it is the same race start area and route in the first ever tall ships race 60 years ago.”
Paul Bishop, Race Director, Sail Training International (STI).
Over the coming days, the fleet will encounter a distinct down turn in conditions compared with the warm summer weather enjoyed in Antwerp. Each vessel will need to make its own tactical route decisions based on wind direction and weather forecasts, to arrive in Torbay in the best condition for the race start itself.
A cold front entering from the west will bring with it 10-15 knot winds rising to 25 knots, providing the new trainees on board the vessels the perfect opportunity to find their sea legs before the competition begins. The fresh westerly winds and rising wave heights will give vessels the chance to teach their new trainees how to combat challenging conditions successfully at sea – from how to deal with sea sickness to learning all the drills necessary to sail the ship safely.
Every vessel has a satellite tracker and the Race Committee will be monitoring the fleet’s progress as they motor/sail to the start over the coming days.
You can also follow the fleet’s progress via YB Tracking.
Photo: Mir (Russia), Class A, preparing to take part in the Parade of Sail. You can find more pictures on our Facebook page.