The Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 was organised by Sail Training International, together with
the American Sail Training Association, to provide a challenging race that circled the North
Atlantic, following the traditional trading route of sailing ships over the centuries taking full
advantage of prevailing winds.
The fleet gathered in Vigo on the northwest corner of Spain
(30 April - 3 May) for the start of the first race in the series,
900 nautical miles south-south-west to Tenerife in the Canary
Islands (14 - 17 May). From there, the fleet raced the 2,600
nautical miles westward across the Atlantic to Bermuda (11 -
15 June) where the ships and crews formed the centrepiece of
the island’s celebrations of its 400th anniversary.
The fleet then
raced to Charleston on the US east coast (25 - 29 June) before
proceeding to Boston, Mass (8 - 13 July). The fleet then took
part in a quick cruise in company of a further 370 miles northnorth-
east to Halifax,
Canada (16 - 20 July),
included the 250th
anniversary of the Naval Port. The final race
started on Monday 20 July for the 2,350 nautical
miles eastbound across the North Atlantic to
Belfast, Northern Ireland (13 - 16 August) where
the series’ grand finale celebrations were held.
As with all Sail Training International races and regattas, a Friendship Trophy was awarded to a vessel that, in the opinion of all the captains and crews, did the most to promote friendship and understanding. In the final prize giving in Belfast, this prestigious prize was awarded to the Dutch naval vessel Urania
The Tall Ships
for many reasons. Many friendships had been formed
over the months, so it was a bittersweet farewell when
the fleet finally left Belfast.