The German vessel Alexander Von Humboldt II was welcomed to Lisbon on Wednesday having completed her first race in The Tall Ships Races 2012.
Now tied up along the quayside, the crew and trainees can take some time to reflect on the first leg of the race series, and also the performance of their brand new Class A Tall Ship, since being completed only last year.
Captain Peter Haase, also from Germany, seems delighted with his new charge, and is coping well under the pressure of being responsible for fifteen million euros worth of shiny new hull and rigging.
“This is a very good ship, a lot bigger and more modern than its predecessor”, he says. “I think we all feel very comfortable aboard and that is a good feeling.”
When asked about the comparisons between the old and new ‘Von Humboldts’, Peter is very positive about his newer ship.
“This larger ship means that we can take around fifty five trainees aboard with us, and it is wonderful for me to see the development of these young people, as that is what the races are all about. Every one learns and grows, and the new ship is certainly helping this more. Having a nice vessel makes everyone want to work harder for it, and this pleases me also.”
Peter backs up this point with an example of a trainee from this most recent leg of the race, which left St Malo in France on the 9th July 2012. A young trainee went to bed on the first night with his dirty boots still on, and refusing to put on his bed sheets, but Peter feels that working aboard the new Alex has helped this unmotivated youth to mature.
“After two weeks aboard, this trainee does not take much shore leave in Lisbon, but now instead will ask what work needs doing and remains aboard because he loves the ship so much. It’s very positive stuff.”
The appreciation of the modern vessel is continued by two of the Alex trainees, who speak highly of the chance to sail with such an up to date craft. Lisbon local Joao Baptista, 18, and Anne Dybkjaer, 22, from Denmark, have both enjoyed their time aboard the German ship.
“I have never been on a Tall Ship before this”, says Anne, “but I really like being on this new boat. It is good to be modern and I think it gives us more motivation.”
Joao is also pleased with conditions aboard the new Alex: “The ship is quite strange inside, as it looks more like a normal boat rather than a Tall Ship. In fact, it looks more like a hospital, but it is very nice and I like it.”
However, the crew and trainees aboard are not living totally in the lap of luxury, as Joao explains. “Up on deck, it is the same as every other Tall Ship, and we still have to pull ropes. The technology aboard is fun, but the crew still want to help us sail.”
The first ‘Alexander Von Humboldt’ has now been sold on, and is doing day trips in the Bahamas. Its replacement craft, sailing from its home port of Bremerhaven in Germany, is now soaking up the Lisbon sunshine before setting sail to Cadiz, Spain on the next leg of The Tall Ships Races 2012.
The Tall Ships Races 2012, Presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International is taking place in the following host ports:
St Malo - Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 July (race start Monday 9 July)
Lisbon - Thursday 19 to Sunday 22 July
Cadiz - Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 July
La Coruña - Friday 10 to Monday 13 August
Dublin - Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 August
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