Majestic ships taking part in the Tall Ships Races 2011 are arriving thick and fast into Lerwick harbour amid mounting anticipation for the start of Shetland’s maritime festival tomorrow.
The very first arrival was the 70-year-old Norwegian class B ship, Auno, which reached Lerwick at 12.45pm yesterday and berthed at Albert Dock next to the Lerwick Port Authority building.
She was closely followed by the Norwegian Wyvern Av Aalesund, which arrived at Lerwick harbour around 2pm after a “rough sail” from Kirkwall and the Dutch Urania, berthed at Holmsgarth.
Today has seen the arrival of the class A ships the British Lord Nelson and the Polish Pogoria, among others. Ultimately there will be 56 Tall Ships in Lerwick, many of them open to the public.
The Trondheim-registered Auno is a traditionally rigged sailing vessel, 16.7-metres long (20 metres with the bowsprit), with a mixture of Norwegian and Dutch nationalities and two women among the five crew and five sail trainees on board. She joined the races in Greenock and arrived in Lerwick from Ullapool, one of the guest harbours on the non-competitive Cruise in Company leg of the Tall Ships Races.
Auno owner and skipper Ottar J Aare made the decision to press straight on to Lerwick without stopping at any other guest harbours because of the rough weather. He said: “We’re delighted to be the first ship to arrive in Lerwick and look forward to a fantastic weekend of Shetland hospitality and a wonderful welcome from the people of Lerwick.”
His son Ole Morten, 25, who works on the ship as first mate (his “real” job is on a seismic vessel), said the ship’s seven sails and 1,500 metres of ropes were a lot for the trainees to learn. However the youngest person on board, a 17-year-old known as “junior”, was like a monkey, very good at working on the ropes and the two masts.
On their passage to Lerwick they caught pollock – it took 10 seconds to catch all they could eat – although they said it was difficult to cook the fish at a 35-degree angle. Meanwhile they are looking forward to sampling the town’s legendary fish suppers.
Adjacent to the Auno is another Norwegian class B ship, the 24-metre Wyvern Av Aalesund, with two masts and a huge sail area. She has nine on board, including four trainees, all from Aalesund, which has strong Shetland Bus connections.
They enjoyed sailing through the Caledonian Canal, they said, with one of the trainees, 18-year-old Terje Kjolsoy, saying: “It was very fun.” One night on the way from Greenock to Inverness it had been so sunny he had slept on deck, he said.
The first class A ship to arrive is also the furthest travelled. The 63-metre Colombian naval ship Gloria arrived at Holmsgarth today, Columbia’s national day, with 162 people on board, including 78 cadets from the Naval Academy and one dog – Captain Gabriel Perez’s black labrador Argos.
She set sail from their home port of Cartagena in May and joined the Tall Ships in Greenock via Boston, USA. Capt. Perez said: “This is our first time in Scotland and a new record for the vessel, the furthest north and nearest a pole we have been in her 43-year life.” They had, however, once been in Antartica at 56 degrees south.
The steel ship is an impressive sight with its huge yellow, blue and red national, and her three masts and mizzen mast and 23 sails provide plenty of work for those on board, including seven females.
The cadets will all become naval officers after their time on the immaculate Spanish-built ship, and, said the captain: “They are very proud of their ship and their career, and want to show off the better face of Columbian culture.
“We are very excited to be here. It’s completely new for all of us.” As a music-loving nation they are particularly pleased to be berthed at Holmsgarth next to the main stage where the musical events will be held. Music is played throughout the ship as the sailors work, and also accompanies them when they put a makeshift net up on the stern deck and play football.
Project manager of The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Lerwick Fiona Dally said: “It’s great to see our neighbours Norway as one of the first vessels to arrive in Lerwick.
“We’re looking forward to the arrival of the remaining ships and to welcoming home our six Shetland sail trainees from the Cruise in Company leg on board Swan and Wylde Swan.”
Harbourmaster Calum Grains, chairman of the harbour sub-committee of The Tall Ships Races Lerwick – 2011 said: “It is great to see the realisation of many months of planning for the Tall Ships fleet. It will be a busy few days with arrivals but we are all ready and looking forward to welcoming the international crews to Lerwick.”
Sail Training International Tall Ships Races 2011 event chairman Knut Western said: “The Tall Ships Races provides young people with an amazing adventure and an experience through which they learn the values of teamwork and leadership and develop new skills and confidence. We are delighted to bring the fleet back to Lerwick and are confident Lerwick will provide a perfect start for Race 2 to Norway.”
Captains and crew can look forward to a packed programme of cultural and sports activity, live music, food and drink in Lerwick. They will take part in the parade tomorrow where 2,000 crew members from the participating ships will dress in uniform or fancy dress and be joined by local musicians and bands as they parade down the Esplanade towards Holmsgarth from 4pm.
* For more information on the event programme for The Tall Ships Races 2011 – Lerwick, please visit www.tallshipsraceslerwick.com