After a break of 13 years, Helsinki gave a very warm welcome to the fleet of international Tall Ships arriving at its port today (Wednesday 17 July).
The Tall Ships Races is held in the Baltic Sea roughly every four years, and this year's event began in Aarhus, Denmark and raced to Helsinki, Finland. From Helsinki the fleet will ‘Cruise in Company’ to Riga in Latvia and then race to Szczecin in Poland.
Weather conditions in the Baltic have been exceptional during the first race leg from Aarhus, allowing ships with modern rigging to benefit from the strong winds. The competition rules state that the ships' sails must be hoisted and engines turned off for the entire voyage from the start to the finish line. During the competitive legs of the race, at least half of each ship's crew members must be aged between 15 and 25 years.
Sixteen-year-old Erik Haapa from Finland served as a sail trainee on Henrika (Finland) in the first race leg from Aarhus. "The Tall Ships Races is a fantastic event, but the seas were rough on the way here; several of our sails were torn and there were large waves, but I was not worried since I have prior sailing experience."
Christer Samuelsson, Event Chairman said, "Helsinki is a wonderful city and on behalf of the fleet and all the trainees, we are delighted to be welcomed so warmly to the pearl of the Baltic Sea."
Prizes for the first leg of the competition will be awarded at an official prize giving ceremony, after the crew parade at 1600, Thursday 18 July, on the Main Stage in the Hietalahti market.
In addition to the ships, this family event is hosting top Finnish artists, a cultural programme and activities for children and young people, as well as restaurants and sales stands, every day from 10am-10pm.
Visitors can go on board some of the class A and B ships between Wednesday and Friday.
You can read about all of the ships taking part in the event at www.tallshipsraceshelsinki.fi/en/event/vessels
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