Some of the biggest sail training Tall Ships in the world will be in Istanbul at the end of May, when the city plays host to a special Tall Ships regatta. The event is being held as part of Istanbul’s celebration of its year as the European Capital of Culture. The Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta, will see a fleet of Tall Ships sail up the Strait of Istanbul on 18th May as they race from Volos in Greece to Varna in Bulgaria. The fleet will then race back from Varna to Istanbul where they will be berthed at the Cruise Liner Terminal at Karaköy for four days between 27th and 30th May 2010.
The Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta is organised by Sail Training International, who also organise the annual Tall Ships Races held in European waters. As well as Istanbul, the other ports that make up this Regatta are Volos and Lavrion in Greece and Varna in Bulgaria. This event provides a new experience for the Tall Ships which have not raced in this region before and anyone over the age of 15 who likes the idea of sailing on a Tall Ship can join in and sail on one of the race legs – no experience is necessary; just a sense of adventure is needed!
The first race commences from Volos in Greece on 12th May and, with the start area established south of the Island of Skiathos, the fleet will follow the route which, according to legend, was taken by Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. Initially the fleet will race to the entrance to the Strait of Çanakkale where, for safety reasons, they will stop racing, turn on their engines and pass through the Sea of Marmara and the Strait of Istanbul. The fleet will assemble at the Golden Horn on the morning of the 18th of May and will pass together, north, through the Strait of Istanbul into the Black Sea. This will be a spectacular sight as the ships pass by.
Once in the Black Sea, the fleet will start the second leg of Race 1 and continue to Varna where the first race finishes. Here they will stop for four days of celebrations, social events and cultural visits. On 24th May the fleet departs from Varna and races back to Istanbul. This time the fleet will be stopping in Istanbul for four days, berthed at the Cruise Liner Terminal at Karaköy. Visitors will have a wonderful opportunity to visit the ships, step on board and enjoy the festival atmosphere. The ships’ crews, numbering upwards of 600, will have the chance to enjoy the warmth of the hospitality of Istanbul and to soak up the incredible cultural opportunities offered by the city.
On 30th May the fleet will leave Istanbul in a spectacular parade of sail, heading east from the Golden Horn and sailing between Heybeliada and Bürükada. They will then turn south-west as they make their way through the Sea of Marmara. This glorious sight is certain to bring out the crowds and it is envisaged that all vantage points along the parade route will be packed with spectators. Once the fleet has passed through the Strait of Çanakkale again, the final race to Lavrion will start on 1st June, expecting to arrive there 3 days later. The final celebrations and, of course the main prize giving ceremony, will take place in Lavrion between 4th and 7th June when the fleet will finally depart, having had a truly memorable time over the four weeks of the event. Many of the vessels taking part in this Regatta will be hurrying north out of the Mediterranean in time to join the next event organised by Sail Training International which is the main summer Tall Ships Races, starting in Antwerp, Belgium at the beginning of July.